Urban Design, Retail + Public Space: Boston a Case Study
What’s the future of Shopping Malls? This workshop explores the history and development of large retail centers and their relationship to the creation of urban centers and public space. Historically, urban markets have been a catalytic force in developing civic centers. The typologies have changed, from ancient middle eastern markets to 19th century arcades to the 1950’s suburban malls. However, the act of shopping continues to be a central component while promoting urban development.
In recent years, e-commerce has become a major player in everyday life and has transformed the shopping experience. According to The Economist, consumers aged 24 to 35 already do about a quarter of their shopping online. If bricks and mortar malls are to survive, they will have to reinvent themselves. This presents a historic opportunity to rethink the mall. Architects, especially in academic circles, have disregarded retail, favoring other, perhaps, more “sophisticated” programs such as museums and libraries. However, it has become very clear that any serious attempt to think about the city and large urban interventions must understand the logics of retail.