Cultural imperialism watch

Did the idea of the enclosed shopping mall come to the United States from Vienna? And was the ideology of communal European planning the original inspiration?

Austrian architect Victor Gruen brought the mall concept to this country and designed the first enclosed American mall, drawing on ideas from socialist theory. He saw malls as the new source of American community, though later in his life he became more skeptical.

By the way, what do we do when socialists bring us ideas that transform our country? In this case we named a shopping theory after the guy:

“The Gruen Effect” is what happens when a clever layout causes task-oriented shoppers to forget the purpose of their quick trip to the store and begin shopping aimlessly. It’s also the very threshold that the designers of the Mall of America want visitors to cross. “We want people to get lost in the mall,” explains Tim Magill of Jerde Partnerships, the group that designed the Bloomington complex. “We want to tweak your perceptions so you’ll be exposed to areas you would regularly pass by.”


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