Every year, fewer and fewer Americans will experience the thrill of a fresh ear piercing at Claire’s or the dopamine release of an Auntie Anne’s pretzel that blunts the tedium of price-shopping for BOGO sport socks at Foot Locker. This is because the mall, the native environment of chain retailers like those mentioned above, is a struggling retail typology that’s one cellphone-kiosk-slash-smoothie-hut away from asphyxiation by online shopping. Dying and dead malls—huge, half-abandoned rectangles ensconced in acres of parking—both epitomize the excesses of capitalism and vex architects with their hard-to-retrofit, big-box designs.
While it’s tough to retrofit a
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