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Austrian-born architect Victor Gruen is perhaps best known for pioneering the design of the American mall typology. His visions for these spaces sought to incorporate various aspects of the city into a single enclosed or indoor space, with a particular focus on consumption and commercial activity. His sprawling designs functioned as the perfect complement to America’s burgeoning leisure-driven consumer culture as a booming economy and an increase in car travel reinforced the possibilities of this new postwar way of life. Perhaps lesser-known, however, is Gruen’s commission from the Iranian government to design an urban plan for the city of Tehran in the late 1960s. At first glance, Tehran appears as a sprawling haphazardly assembled megacity at the foothills of the Alborz Mountains. In fact, Gruen’s masterplan for the city, which was designed in tandem with the Iranian architect Abdol-Aziz Mirza Farmanfarmaian, laid the framework for city life at scales ranging from highways and road systems, to palaces, apartment complexes, and even satellite towns. Gruen’s work in Tehran during the 1960s against the geopolitical backdrop of the White Revolution and Cold War and leading up to the Iranian Revolution in 1978, was reflective of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s desires to rapidly modernize and westernize the country in an effort to legitimize and consolidate his power. View more View full description
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