Dead Malls 

The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design proposed an open ideas competition in 2003 to envision the future of the enclosed mall. Warren Techentin organized and managed the competition while serving on the board of the LA Forum and ultimately edited the Dead Malls Pamphlet 01 which summarized the results. The nationwide demise of the mall had then been widely documented. Members of the LA Forum felt too few compelling proposals had been generated by anyone outside the retail establishment. The goal of the competition was aimed at countering the prevailing trend towards dereliction, abandonment, and destitution. The competition invited a variety of possible approaches to rethinking the urbanistic and architectural context of regional malls and their relationships to surrounding communities. In addition it sought to generate a number of prototypical schemes which explored a variety of strategies such as adaptive re-use, renovation, reprogramming, "de-malling", new additions, re-storing, selective erasures, re-branding and re-packaging with the desire to nurse the existing, ailing life forms back to health. The process was meant to serve as a method of exploring similar aims with potential applicability to many different contexts and address a generic problem using a multiplicity of specific methodologies. The winners of the competition were exhibited in a number of locations nationwide including SPF:a, Los Angeles; Shopping Center World Convention, Las Vegas; The Dixie Square Mall, Chicago (in collaboration with the Center for Land Use Interpretation); and the Municipal Art Society, New York.

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See a discussion of the competition and interviews with jurors, entrants, and Warren Techentin at The New York Times.