Ten rejuvenations of shopping centers located around the world represent an array of strategies for revitalization in today’s economic climate.
With consumer confidence low and vacancy rates high, shopping centers across the globe face a challenging economic climate. Yet the current downturn also paves the way for renewals of existing centers. Departed anchors create opportunities for radical interventions. At the same time, municipalities are strongly motivated to provide economic incentives to help turn around declining malls and shape them to be more responsive to their communities. The following ten shopping centers, all completed in the last five years, offer new strategies for bringing cultural uses into shopping centers, examples of contemporary architectural design that responds to the particularities of the local context and population,creative applications of urban design principles, sensitive incorporation of new construction with historic buildings, as well as examples of navigation of the complexities of public/private partnerships to provide benefits neither sector could have supplied on its own. (The ten projects are listed alphabetically, not in any rank order.)
1. Alegro Alfragide; Amadora, Portugal
In the municipality of Amadora, a satellite city of Portugal’s capital city, developer Immochan of Lisbon revamped and expanded a former Jumbo supermarket into the flagship shopping center of its new Alegro chain. The project included partial demolition of the existing center and the addition of two below-ground parking levels, three aboveground floors of retail space, a cinema complex, and a food court. Lisbon-based Sua Kay Architects designed Alegro Alfragide with a contemporary feel to appeal to young urbanites, varying the facades with pattern and color and incorporating a colored glass tower at one end; olive trees in planter boxes jut out from the main facade. Tenants include both international and local shops and restaurants. Constructed in phases to allow the facility to remain open, the renovation and expansion were completed in 2007.
2. Bayshore Town Center; Glendale, Wisconsin
In Glendale, Wisconsin, a suburb six miles (9.6 km) north of downtown Milwaukee, a public/private partnership converted a 1950s enclosed mall into a new pedestrian-oriented mixed-use town center, doubling the retail space and adding office space, a health club, and residences. The project involved tearing down part of the existing mall and adding a lifestyle center as well as 115 loft-style residences above retail; 75 condominiums serve as a buffer between adjacent neighborhoods and new structured parking. Brick and stone facades and copper roofing reference the architecture of Milwaukee. Completed in 2007, Bayshore Town Center is organized around a central square, with an urban street grid and on-street parking, providing a downtown that the city previously lacked. More than $65 million of the project’s financing came from the Glendale Community Development Authority. Owners are Corrigan Properties of Dallas; Mall Properties of New York City; and developer Steiner + Associates of Columbus, Ohio; the architect for the renovation is Development Design Group of Baltimore, Maryland.
3. Bergen Town Center Paramus, New Jersey
The Bergen Mall in Paramus, New Jersey, began life as an open-air mall during the 1950s. Except for enclosure in the 1970s, the shopping venue did not undergo significant renovation for decades. By the time Vornado Realty Trust of New York City purchased the property in 2003, two major anchors had departed and the mall had fallen into decline. The remodel and expansion, completed in 2009, involved demolition of a vacant anchor building, renovation of the facade to add architectural variety, and addition of new entrance courts, a parking deck, and a double-height concourse with skylights to bring in natural light. Redubbing the mall Bergen Town Center, the owners strengthened its emphasis on value-oriented retailers by bringing in tenants such as Nordstrom Rack, Century21, and Target, as well as a Whole Foods supermarket. Cooper Carry was design architect, and GreenbergFarrow served as architect of record; both are based in New York City.
4. Clackamas Town Center Happy Valley, Oregon
Built in 1981 in Happy Valley, Oregon, about ten miles (16 km) southeast of Portland, Clackamas Town Center was an enclosed mall with large, nondescript boxy massing swallowed up by a sea of parking. Since 2000, Happy Valley’s population has been growing rapidly, so Chicago-based owner General Growth Properties initiated a revamp along more urban lines. The Portland office of DLR Group designed two new lifestyle villages on the mall’s southern side and added pedestrian paths, updated the interior common areas, expanded the food court, renovated the exterior and entries to improve wayfinding, and added a 20-screen cinema. Renovations were completed in 2008. General Growth Properties also entered into a public/private partnership with Clackamas County, which enabled traffic rerouting and the 2009 opening of a new light-rail station and bus transit center on the site, adjacent to a new parking deck serving both shoppers and commuters.
5. La Gran Plaza Fort Worth, Texas
Demographic shifts require retail centers to adapt in order to thrive. Seminary South Center opened as an open-air mall in Fort Worth, Texas, in 1962. A major renovation during the 1980s enclosed it, but competing regional centers and a changing population led to decline, with all anchors having pulled out by the early 2000s. In 2004, a group of investors led by the Legaspi Company of Montebello, California, purchased the mall and repositioned it to appeal to the sizable local Hispanic population. David Hidalgo Architects of Arcadia, California, redesigned the center along the lines of traditional colonial cities of Central and South America, with Spanish colonial–style buildings organized around plazas and courtyards. The remaking of the center, which is now known as La Gran Plaza, was completed in 2008. In addition to a mix of national chain and local Hispanic-owned shops and restaurants, La Gran Plaza includes the ten-screen Cinema Latino, a nightclub, and an arena for rodeos and concerts. The former Dillard’s department store now houses El Mercado, a market-style space for small businesses and entrepreneurs.
6. Lincoln & Rose Shopping Center Venice, California
In 2005, real estate firm Combined Properties of Beverly Hills acquired a 1960s-era neighborhood shopping center in Venice Beach, California. Although it suffered from blight and dilapidation, the location was on a major transportation corridor at the city limits of Santa Monica. The developer signed Whole Foods as anchor and brought in Long Beach, California–based Studio 111 to revitalize the property, which reopened in 2008. Adding ten feet (3 m) to the sidewalks along the storefront gave pedestrians more room and allowed for outdoor seating. Along with new exterior lighting and landscaping, facade renovations created a contemporary look, with stucco, metal, colored glass, and wood siding designed to harmonize with the beach-side community. Sustainable design strategies include pedestrian connections to nearby transit stops, the introduction of 60 new shade trees, and bioswales for stormwater retention and filtering.
7. Renoma Wroclaw, Poland
The Wertheim luxury department store chain opened what was believed to be central Europe’s largest steel-structure retail center in Wroclaw, Poland, in 1930. Bombing damaged the modernist structure during World War II, but left the structure intact. The current owner, Centrum Development and Investments of Warsaw, brought in architecture firms Benoy of London and Mackow Pracownia Projektowa of Wroclaw to redesign the existing building, renovate the facade, and add three levels of commercial space on top and a new wing containing a six-level parking structure and four floors of retail. Internal courtyards were covered with glass roofs, and a new glazed atrium connects the new wing to the original building. The wing’s exterior continues the distinctive horizontal lines of the original’s windows, which are separated by decorative ceramic tiles and gold-plated ornamentation. The renovated Renoma opened in 2009.
8. Royal Hawaiian Center Waikiki, Hawaii
The Royal Hawaiian Center was designed in the Brutalist style as a complex of three concrete buildings during the late 1970s. Honolulu-based Kamehameha Schools, the private college preparatory school that owns the center, asked the Festival Companies, a Los Angeles–based developer, to revitalize and expand the four-level complex, which spans three blocks on Waikiki’s main thoroughfare, Kalakaua Avenue. Seattle, Washington–based Callison replaced heavy concrete pedestrian bridges with a single, lighter bridge; introduced new pedestrian pathways to nearby hotels; added Hawaiian-inspired design elements such as lanai decks to provide vistas and trellises to soften the edges of existing buildings; inserted new window openings to open up restaurants to the street; and turned a concrete courtyard into a large gathering space landscaped with native plantings. A new fourth-level live entertainment venue with a 750-seat theater was added to draw patrons to the upper levels. The Royal Hawaiian Center reopened in 2008.
9. Stary Browar Poznan, Poland
The first phase of Stary Browar—“Old Brewery”—opened in the center city of Poznað, Poland, in 2003, housing more than 100 shops, restaurants, and offices in renovated brewery buildings dating to the mid-1800s. In 2004, the owner, Poznað-based Fortis LLC, created an internal courtyard designed to showcase art. The second phase, which was opened in 2007, added a new arcade building with three retail floors over three stories of underground parking. The new portion, the Arcade, takes a postmodern approach, relying on materials similar to those of the renovated brewery structures. Also in 2007, the art courtyard was enclosed to allow for year-round use. Fortis stipulates that 50 percent of Stary Browar consist of artistic enterprises; the expansion provides new open spaces for cultural events such as exhibitions, performances, fashion shows, and concerts. Local architecture firm Studio ADS was the designer for both phases.
10. Westfield Century City Shopping Center Los Angeles, California
Sydney, Australia–based Westfield Group closed down Westfield Century City’s old food court and created a new indoor/outdoor dining terrace adjacent to a new AMC-15 cinema. Designed by local firm Rios Clementi Hale Studios with Westfield, the dining terrace has a glass-enclosed interior as well as outdoor lounge areas shaded by steel-and-glass canopies, offering views of the skyline and taking advantage of natural light. Modern furnishings, wood paneling, and the use of ceramic dishware and metal silverware impart a higher-end restaurant feel. Opened in 2005, the 42,000-square-foot (3,900-sq-m) space includes both chains and one-of-a-kind local restaurants, offering South American and pan-Asian cuisine. The dining terrace also hosts free movies during the summer and live jazz performances.