The First Shopping Mall Essay

The First Shopping Mall Essay

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When Victor Gruen, the man credited with designing the first shopping mall in the early 1950s, designed plans for new shopping malls to be created, he typically specified land that was to be included and used for community and civic purposes. That may come to a surprise to many people; as the majority of shopping malls today rarely include such luxuries. Land adjacent to shopping malls is usually prime real estate, and to increase their revenue malls often sell off the farthest areas of their parking lots; typically for chain restaurants to be built. Not exactly what Gruen had in mind.
In this essay, I will be focusing on the Mall at Partridge Creek. Though I acknowledge that Partridge Creek is still not what Gruen had envisioned, I think that it is trying to set itself apart from the traditional shopping mall and provide more of a community feeling to the shopping experience. The Mall at Partridge Creek is laid out in the standard shopping mall layout: a long loop of smaller boutique-type retail stores with larger multiple-storied department stores, or “anchor stores”, at each end of the loop. The principal distinction is that it is an “open air mall”, there are no external walls or ceilings beyond the stores themselves; outside of stores, shoppers are exposed to the elements, whether favorable or lousy. Which is a bold design choice considering Michigan’s bitterly cold winter and rainy spring seasons. To compensate for harsh weather, the cobblestone walkways are heated, to ensure there are no snow or ice buildups to deal with; however, the mall’s layout has a downfall, it creates a wind tunnel effect with even the slightest of gusts, which seems to intensify even the slightest of unfavorable weather. Yet die-hard s...


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...es set up throughout the mall itself; which, along with the free WiFi Internet access, gives visitors a chance to relax and unwind while still enjoying the open air and scenery. In this way, The Mall at Partridge Creek could serve as the secondary purpose of a third place, in which Dr. Oldenburg describes as “neutral ground” – where friends can meet with one another, where “one is neither guest nor host of the other, where one can come and go as one pleases.”
My conclusion, then, is that while the Mall at Partridge Creek is still a shopping mall – promoting consumerism and status display with its higher end name brand stores, it was also developed to instill a sense of community and neighborhood to its patrons. The mall’s design is reminiscent of a downtown shopping center, and the amenities encourage conversation and shared experiences for patrons of all ages.

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