Meet me by the fountain An inside history of the mall

Alexandra Lange

Book - 2022

Since their birth in the 1950s, malls have been temples of commerce. Amid the aftershocks of financial crises, a global pandemic, and the rise of online retail, abandoned shopping centers have become one of our era's defining images. Lange chronicles the postwar invention of the mall, and shows how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in the cultural ascent. She shows that they are environments of both freedom and exclusion, of consumerism but also of community. --

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381.11/Lange
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Location Call Number   Status
2nd Floor New Shelf 381.11/Lange (NEW SHELF) Due Aug 24, 2022
Subjects
Genres
Informational works
Published
New York : Bloomsbury Publishing 2022.
Language
English
Physical Description
310 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references (pages 267-297) and index.
ISBN
9781635576023
1635576024
Main Author
Alexandra Lange (author)
  • Introduction: Why we go to the mall
  • Every day will be a perfect shopping day
  • The garden
  • The mall and the public
  • Make shopping beside the point
  • Whose mall is it anyway?
  • Dawn of the Dead mall
  • The postapocalyptic mall
  • Conclusion: The mall abroad.
Review by Booklist Reviews

In this spry architectural history, Lange (The Design of Childhood, 2018) tracks the American shopping mall's postwar origins, evolution during the second half of the twentieth century, and twenty-first-century collapse and future possibility. Beginning with personal memories of the North Carolina malls near where she grew up—the piercings and the Muzak, the angst and the miniskirts—she seems to invite readers to map their own mall experiences onto the chronologically organized accounts of architects, developers, and specific sites that follow. To chart overarching trends over time, each chapter is brought to life by a topic (like the downtown mall of the 1970s or the amusement-park mall of the 1980s) and a few pioneering protagonists.Throughout, Lange is attentive to the ways in which twentieth-century visions of the mall as a kind of town square were deliberately conceived to keep out people of color and of lower incomes. This reminder of how the smells, sights, sounds, and spatial layout of the nation's malls are carefully controlled is an important counterpoint to the highly individualized experiences that animate them. Copyright 2022 Booklist Reviews.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Design critic Lange (The Design of Childhood) delivers a thought-provoking cultural history of the shopping mall. Noting that malls emerged as the U.S. "reinvented itself" in the decades after WWII, Lange recounts how Austrian architect Victor Gruen convinced the owners of J. L. Hudson department store in Detroit to build four regional shopping centers in the city's booming suburbs. Northland Center, which opened in 1954, had a covered passageway linking its six buildings and landscaped plazas to provide "circulation and a sense of orientation for the shopper." Its success led to Gruen's development of America's first enclosed shopping mall in a Minneapolis suburb in 1956 and set the stage for later innovations, including Boston's Faneuil Hall, which repurposed 19th-century market buildings and featured "quirky and local businesses" rather than chain stores, and the rise of supersized malls, including the Mall of America. Lange also explores how malls gave teenagers newfound independence and reinforced racial inequities by catering to predominately white suburbanites. Contending that malls answer "the basic human need" of bringing people together, Lange advocates for retrofitting abandoned shopping centers into college campuses, senior housing, and "ethnocentric marketplaces" catering to immigrant communities. Lucid and well researched, this is an insightful study of an overlooked and undervalued architectural form. Agent: Joe Veltre, Gersh Agency. (June) Copyright 2022 Publishers Weekly.

Review by Publisher Summary 1

This entertaining and evocative stroll through the rise, fall and ongoing reinvention of malls, which proved to be a powerful draw for creative thinkers, including Joan Didion, Ray Bradbury and George Romero, chronicles how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in cultural ascent. 60,000 first printing. Illustrations.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

An entertaining and evocative stroll through the rise, fall, and ongoing reinvention of malls, which proved to be a powerful draw for creative thinkers including Joan Didion, Ray Bradbury, and George Romero, chronicles how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in cultural ascent.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

A portrait—by turns celebratory, skeptical, and surprisingly moving—of one of America’s most iconic institutions, from an author who “might be the most influential design critic writing now” (LARB).

Review by Publisher Summary 4

“A smart and accessible cultural history.”—Los Angeles Times“A fantastic examination of what became the mall … envision[ing] a more meaningful public afterlife for our shopping centers.”—VultureA portrait--by turns celebratory, skeptical, and surprisingly moving--of one of America’s most iconic institutions, from an author who “might be the most influential design critic writing now” (LARB).Few places have been as nostalgized, or as maligned, as malls. Since their birth in the 1950s, they have loomed large as temples of commerce, the agora of the suburbs. In their prime, they proved a powerful draw for creative thinkers such as Joan Didion, Ray Bradbury, and George Romero, who understood the mall’s appeal as both critics and consumers. Yet today, amid the aftershocks of financial crises and a global pandemic, as well as the rise of online retail, the dystopian husk of an abandoned shopping center has become one of our era’s defining images. Conventional wisdom holds that the mall is dead. But what was the mall, really? And have rumors of its demise been greatly exaggerated?In her acclaimed The Design of Childhood, Alexandra Lange uncovered the histories of toys, classrooms, and playgrounds. She now turns her sharp eye to another subject we only think we know. She chronicles postwar architects’ and merchants’ invention of the mall, revealing how the design of these marketplaces played an integral role in their cultural ascent. In Lange’s perceptive account, the mall becomes newly strange and rich with contradiction: Malls are environments of both freedom and exclusion--of consumerism, but also of community. Meet Me by the Fountain is a highly entertaining and evocative promenade through the mall’s story of rise, fall, and ongoing reinvention, for readers of any generation.