editorial     May 22 2009

Put the “Life” in Deadmalls

Mapos LLC

Our friend Brigitte Cooperman turned us on the this recent article in the WSJ. Be sure to check out the photos and interactive graphics.

It’s full of dismal stats and unsurprising news that more and more malls are dying. When will we learn that single-use, homogenous building types are not sustainable? Haven’t we learned anything about diversifying our (programmatic) portfolios?


While the article mentions that, “during past economic cycles, dead malls were frequently redeveloped into mixed-use space that includes apartments, offices or parks. Repurposing mall space today will be more difficult,” we would argue that this is short-sighted and narrow minded. Malls were (and are) much, much more than commercial real estate properties. In hundreds of communities across the country, the mall is the only “meeting place, or, in some cases, a city center.” How can we re-invigorate these massive physical, architectural, and cultural resources? The embodied energy of the steel, concrete, brass hand rails, and skylights alone warrant an assesment. When you consider their value as the center of social, civic and commercial life, the assets are greatly magnified.