PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractIn today’s suburban landscape, the shopping center has become a significant destination for many. Vastly sized, it has become a cultural landmark within many suburban and urban neighborhoods. Not only a space for ‘purchasing’, the suburban shopping center has become a place to shop, a place to eat, a place to meet, a place to exercise – a social space. However, with the development and dominance of big box retail stores and online shopping on the rise, suburban shopping malls as we currently know them, are slowly disappearing. Suburban malls, which were once successful in serving their suburban communities, are on the decline. These malls are suffering financially as stores close and the community no longer has reason to attend these dying monoliths – it is with this catalyst that the mall eventually has no choice but to close. With little additional places for social engagement in a suburban community, the mall has become a contradictory example of what it was once intended to do. A place for social and civic engagement, as well as an economic triumph has now become an eye sore – a burden on the community it was once designed to serve. Citizens are forced to drive elsewhere – arguably to a regional mall, or a big box power center. What if a declining mall could be repurposed or redefined to enhance the community it stands within by reimagining the shopping mall? Are there possibilities for a reimagined shopping center – possibilities that would resist the single minded consumerist approach and instill a sense of place within the community it stands? This master’s report is aimed at determining a new typology for a failing approach to consumerism, architecture and landscape architecture – an approach that focuses on social engagement and meaningful connections with the surrounding community. There have been a number of advancements and changes within consumerism in the Western World - a cycling of architectural styles, technological innovation and social trends. By focusing on the ‘next shift’ in successful urban planning, this report opens up a new possibility of both consumerism and social engagement acting harmoniously. Can these ‘dead malls’ help define a ‘sense of place’ within the community they were originally part of? Rather than discarding (literally tearing down) what once was a flourishing space of both consumerism and social engagement, can they be reimagined to enhance the community beyond a reductive view of pure consumerism, and become a new landmark that will have the potential to enhance and engage the community, as well as contribute to the economic success of a city?