The international Prix Versailles Committee has announced the recipients of its annual awards celebrating built commercial architecture. The awards were held at the UNESCO World Headquarters, with recipients hailing from 6 regions around the world. Chaired by the Mayor of Versailles François de Mazières, the international jury included architects Manuelle Gautrand, Toyo Ito, Wang Shu, and acclaimed chef Guy Laroche.
The 12 World Titles are awarded in 4 top categories: stores, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants. The winners were selected from a diverse range of 70 regional winners already present in the ceremony.
The Walmart Supercenter is generally considered one of the great antagonists of architecture around the world – the hulking behemoth who sold its integrity for the consumer convenience of having everything in one place. Though the first Walmart Supercenter didn’t open until 1988, big box stores have existed in some form since the 1960s, luring in shoppers with low prices and curbside loading lanes. For all the user psychology design that goes into them, the original designs of these buildings rarely pay much mind to their architectural or urban consequences, excluding a few notable exceptions.
Regardless, for the past 20 years big box stores have continued to prosper, prompting tenants to leave their homes and move on to even larger structures, leaving behind giant, open frameworks – for sale on the cheap. In a recent essay for 99% Invisible entitled Ghost Boxes: Reusing Abandoned Big-Box Superstores Across America, author Kurt Kohlstedt explores the architectural potential of these megastructures, drawing inspiration from the architects and communities that have successfully converted them into valuable assets.
Rafael Viñoly and OLIN have unveiled plans to transform Cupertino's Vallco Shopping Mall into a new mixed-use neighborhood that boasts the "world's largest green roof." The current plans call for a 15-block sustainable town center with 625,000-square-feet of retail, two-million-square-feet of office space and 800 residential units. All this, if approved, would be topped by a 30 acre public green space with a 3.8 mile trail network that runs through orchards, vineyards, an amphitheater and play areas.
We have all visited places that linger with us long after we leave them, often drawing us back through the memories we made there. When recalling this memory of place, however, we rarely consider malls to be evocative of such powerful emotional connections. A recent article from The Huffington Post argues that these common shopping centers can incite some of the deepest nostalgia. "Why I'm Mourning The Death Of A Mall" delves into the connection between malls and their inherent qualities of independence, community, and growth, and encourages us to view them from a different perspective, as our increasingly technology-centric society may make the mall a thing of the past. Read the article, here.
This article, which originally appeared on Bullett Media, is by writer Matthew Newton. Newton has written for The Atlantic, Esquire, Forbes, and Guernica, and is currently at work on No Place for Disgrace, a collection of nonfiction stories based on the faded promise of the American suburbs. You can follow him on Twitter @newtonmatthew.
In November of 1977, filmmaker George A. Romero arrived with cast and crew at Monroeville Mall, a sprawling indoor shopping center located in the suburbs east of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The young director, who by that time had established himself as a pioneer in the horror genre, was set to start production on his latest film, Dawn of the Dead, a sequel to his 1968 cult classic Night of the Living Dead. Once again Romero’s slow-shuffling ghouls — starved as always for brains and entrails, meaty thigh bones and plump jugulars — would be unleashed on bumbling humans ill-prepared for a world gone rotten.
This time around, however, Romero, who in Night of the Living Dead touched on issues of race in the civil-rights era, had plans to skewer a new social dilemma: the rise of the American consumer. And to properly lampoon the nation’s burgeoning shop-till-you-drop culture, Romero needed the ideal backdrop.
Read more of Matthew Newton's take on the immortality of the shopping mall, after the break...
One thing about a recession is that it accelerates the demise of dying trends and struggling establishments. In this case, it is America’s beloved shopping malls, which have been slowly in decline since its peak popularity in 1990. Now, in the wake of the 2008 economic catastrophe, American cities are riddled with these abandoned shopping meccas, from the mall to big box stores and shopping strips, whose oversize parking lots are equally as useless as the spaces themselves. The question is, how can we effectively repurpose these spaces?