Maclean1

Back to the Arieff blog we go. What better forum than the annual International Council on Shopping Centers (ICSC) convention in Las Vegas to review and comment on the cultural leanings of the American psyche. Getting excited? Um, you bet!

Of course we should not be surprised that very little at the convention is groundbreaking, or remotely new, or even interesting. Even in this economy, it’s still Bigger, Better, More of the Same. This industry is the poster-child for the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” set. Taking a cue from Hollywood, it’s all about sequels with bolder special effects and the same, tired story lines. At least some developers are beginning to embrace “mixed-use” if that only means including more program under one roof: malls attached to stadiums.

Arieff was there to judge an ICSC competition on Future Visions. Certainly the overlooked “charitable” component of such amped-up consumerism, she highlighted some thoughtful designs from architects thinking about where the culture may be pointing us. And that’s the key differentiator here – the culture. Each of her highlighted entrants began with the premise of the shopper. What are they doing? Who are they with? What tools are they using to help navigate through their day? (Answer: iPhone). How are our communities changing? What do we need? While the designs are still grandiose, at least there is a human scale here. A nod to the values that keep us linked.

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