Don’t ask me why, but a recent FastCompany magazine article titled “Erie Photos of Abandoned Shopping Malls Show the Changing Face of Suburbia” caught my eye. The article focuses on the failure of the economy in Cleveland, Ohio, which has lost half of its population since the malls were built in 1976. Among the dying vegetation, broken glass and empty stores depicted in the photos were elevators and escalators, staples in malls all over the world. According to the article, over the next couple of decades, as many as half of the malls in the U.S. may be abandoned.
Seph Lawless, author of the article, blames the economy, at least part of the shift also has to do with bad design. Fewer people want to live or shop in the suburbs, and fewer people want to spend their free time under depressing fluorescent lights indoors. If malls are going extinct, that’s just another opportunity to retrofit suburbia–either by building smarter, denser developments, like this new neighborhood built in a former mall parking lot, or by turning the land back into green space.
So, as we finally begin to see commercial construction slowly increase after years of difficult economic times, it seems malls may not be a part of this trend. Oh how we will miss you Glamour Shots, mall walkers and shady cell phone cover salesman.