Outdoor Commercial Entertainment Malls: Disneyland or Genus Loci

Erin Berg

The West Coast population continues to grow and some of the most popular regions have become conglomerates of several auto-dominated municipalities that, from the eye of the driver, merge seamlessly. The backbones of these communities are freeways and the hearts of these communities are boulevards. Most of the time you leave your house, you are bound for your car door only to get out again when you have arrived at your specific destination. Therefore, a day-to-day experience involves little walking, only intended social encounters and a sensory experience limited to what is seen out of the windshield. Many people are not satisfied with this narrow experience and developers are recognizing a new market.
Outdoor commercial entertainment malls are gaining popularity and may soon pop up all over the country. The urban design techniques employed in these developments create a comfortable pedestrian experience and a vibrant urban landscape. They are places where you can park you car just one time, walk around, interact with other people, feel the sun, smell the restaurants and see the flowers. Santana Row is one of these developments. Although Santana Row shows us how good urban design can activate a place, it’s sense of place is contrived. Foreign imported artifacts create a Disneyland effect while the pear orchards previously on-site are forgotten with its authentic genus loci.


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