Redesigning the mall for public spaces, parks, gardens, even churches: The NYTimes surveys adaptive reuses of the dying American shopping mall
“Most cities, looking at shrinking budgets, cannot afford to subsidize or knock down ailing malls, and healthy retailers that are expanding — like H&M and Nordstrom Rack — generally will not open at depressed locations. So, as though they were upholstering polyester chairs from the 1960s with Martha Stewart fabric, urban planners and community activists are trying to spruce up and rethink the uses of many of the artifacts.
Schools, medical clinics, call centers, government offices and even churches are now standard tenants in malls. By hanging a curtain to hide the food court, the Galleria in Cleveland, which opened in 1987 with about 70 retailers and restaurants, rents space for weddings and other events. Other malls have added aquariums, casinos and car showrooms.
Designers in Buffalo have proposed stripping down a mall to its foundation and reinventing it as housing, while an aspiring architect in Detroit has proposed turning a mall’s parking lot there into a community farm. Columbus, Ohio, arguing that it was too expensive to maintain an empty mall on prime real estate, dismantled its City Center mall and replaced it with a park.”