Man of the Street

rick-caruso-j-emilio-flores-for-the-new-york-times

LA Times Book Critic David Ulin quotes my 2002 article “The Once and Future Mall” in his profile of developer Rick Caruso that ran in this past weekend’s LA Times Magazine.

In describing The Grove, Ulin writes: “If you squint a little, there’s almost the impression of a city center, a quasi-public space that’s commercial, yes, but also communal. This, of course, is the point. ‘People come to the Grove,’ says Caruso, ‘and they’re spending half the day. They may not buy a thing—most of them do, thank God—but they’re coming to hang out, run into friends, grab a cup of coffee and that, I think, is more in line with the way people live. It feels natural.’

To call the Grove natural may seem a bit of an overstatement. This is, after all, a theme park for  shoppers, a commercial fantasy writ large and developed out of whole cloth. ‘The Grove’s popular success,’ wrote Alan A. Loomis of the Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design in 2002, ‘reinforces entertainment retail (retail-tainment) as the only legitimate activity for creating  urban places.’  Still, there’s little doubt that its popularity has a lot to do with just such an illusion, the idea that what it offers is a taste of something that resembles the neighborhood pedestrian experience.”

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