Archives On The Air 57: How To Cook A Shopping Mall—The Victor Gruen Papers

Sep 5, 2018

Victor Gruen was an Austrian architect who came to the U.S. to escape WWII. He became a pioneer in the design of shopping centers and malls.

In 1963 Gruen wrote an article for STORES magazine titled “How to Cook an Ideal Shopping Center.” This is his recipe:

“Take one hundred acres of ideally shaped flat land. Surround same by five hundred thousand consumers who have no access whatever to any other shopping facilities. Prepare the land and cover the central portion with one million square feet of buildings.

“Fill with first rate merchandisers who will sell superior wares at alluringly low prices. … Finish up by decorating with some potted plants, miscellaneous flower beds, a little sculpture, and serve sizzling hot to consumer.”

Gruen warns that there is no “ready-mix shopping center” and the article explains how every mall must be built for the specific region it is located in.

Learn more about Gruen and his design work in the Victor Gruen papers available at UW’s American Heritage Center.