Friday, April 29, 2011

Bradbury at the Mall

I have briefly blogged before on how Bradbury invented the modern shopping mall - not in a science-fictional way in one of his stories, but in a for-real way through a series of essays.

Bradbury's book Yestermorrow includes these essays, written when Bradbury was associated with the architectural company Jon Jerde Associates. Among Bradbury's innovations, none of which sound terribly startling today, were the idea that we want to get lost, and so shopping areas should have pathways that we can't see the end of, and occasional unexpected dead ends. Another is the idea that we don't go to malls to shop; we actually go to eat, and that a good shopping mall or plaza needs restaurants. Bradbury's ideas were not written just as idle fantasies, but as conceptual pieces to inspire Jerde's designs. From them, a whole generation of influential mall designs emerged, and the now ubiquitous "food court" came into being.

Dave Allen, writing in the Contra Costa Times, has discussed Bradbury's ideas further - using the occasion of an October 2010 Bradbury visit to Pomona, California as an opportunity to flag up Bradbury's earlier visits to the city, and his attempts to encourage Pomona to adopt some of his ideas for downtown regeneration. Allen's article is here, and he posted additional information, including newspaper clippings, on his blog here.

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