Dead Malls - Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design

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Dead Malls - Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Oct 02, 2002 4:18 pm

Dead Malls - Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design

The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design proposes an open, two-part, ideas competition to envision the future of the mall. This competition challenges the design and planning community to counter the trend towards the deriliction, abandonment, and "death" of the regional mall and invites approaches to rethinking its urbanistic and architectural milieu. The nationwide demise of these large scale retail complexes has been widely documented in recent years, but few compelling proposals have been generated towards their resuscitation and ressurrection. This competition seeks the reanimation of the presumed "dead" and "dying", reassessing the role these structures play in civic life and the possibilities modification or conversion might provide to communities across America.

There is no single culprit for the death of the regional mall. Commentators site new retailing concepts, high-maintenance costs, and internet shopping as a few of the more visible accomplices to their demise. Nationwide, scores of these dead or failing malls exist, some boarded up and others underused. The effects of this malaise has been devastating to various regions of the country with the loss of jobs, taxes, regional income, population, entertainment venues, and civic pride. In other areas, these lifeless hulks merely take up space, made obsolete by the next wave of merchandising down the road. For the purposes of this competition, entrants are asked to reflect and speculate upon the condition of the mall through analysis of and the subsequent operation on, an actual, specific "dead" mall on an actual site. The selected mall should be accessible to the entrant to conduct site research and to document the mall in the context of its failure.

Entrants must probe into the mall's death and provide a diagnosis of its fatal "illness". In so doing, entrants must establish their own parameters of inquiry. Is retailing still an important function? What is the role of site? Are certain parts of the mall in need of prosthesis, or is the mall rotten to its core? What type of operation is to be conducted--cosmetic, structural, both? The questions posed by the entrant, need to critically reasses the mall in a light which will adequately address the fundamental problems at the root of it's sickness. Entrants must also consider the mechanics of the mall's resuscitation. What constituencies are involved with your mall? Public, private, institutional, educational, cultural, governmental or any combination of these parties have the capacity to enable the mall's resurrection. Entrants are also asked to consider how new technologies, perhaps even a specific mechanism, could modify the space and life within the mall. Other strategies of analysis and exploration might include, but are not limited to, expansion, contraction, 'de-malling', erasure, adaptive re-use, reprogramming, re-zoning, 're-storing', 're-branding', and financial restructuring.

The competition will be divided into two phases. Phase One seeks to gather the most promising research, analysis, and proposals and seeks to isolate a specific mall through site documentation, establish the cause of its death through research, and to conceptualize a framework that will lead to the mall's "resuscitation". As a set of 'case studies' for the development and renewal of the mall, entrants are asked to produce strategic proposals for their mall that critically asses and seek to challenge norms of architectural and urbanistic production and practices. This work is to be assembled in a small book and submitted by November 18th, 2002. Entries will be judged on both the provocation and strength of their proposal in light of their research and analysis. A jury will select twenty-five proposals for development in the second phase. Jury members will look for differing and multivalent methodologies or strategies which each look at the phenomena of the mall from a different perspective. There are no panaceas. The research and proposals of the twenty-five finalists will describe a diverse terrain of possibilities potentially inclusive of design practices from retail developers, local government, traffic engineers, civil engineers, architects, landscape architects, urban designers, signage and color consultants, retail consultants, artists, environmental consultants, furniture designers, etc.

The second phase of the project will focus on refining the inital proposals and will be submitted by February 10th, 2003. The finalists from the first phase will develop their proposed schemes in detail based on the objectives of the proposal. The participants of this phase of the competition will all receive a cash award, be featured on the L.A Forum website, be included in a traveling exhibition, and featured in future L.A. Forum publications.

Type: Open ideas / research competition
Phase 1 Deadline: November 18th, 2002
Phase 2 Deadline: February 10th, 2003
Entry Fee: professionals $75, students $35, forum members $35
Awards: $20,000 + Exhibition


Download and complete the Registration Form from the competition website, In order to insure anonymity, you are asked on this form to create a four-digit code. This will be the way your entry will be identified.

Items submitted for this phase of the competition must include:

An unsealed envelope with completed Registration Form and check or money order for entry fee. Please write your four-digit code onto the front of the envelope.

Two copies of the competition entry in the form of a bound 11" x 17" book in horizontal format.

A CD with the same information on it in Adobe Acrobat '.pdf' format.

Phase One entries are to be anonymous. Each page is to be labeled with the entrant's selected code created in the Registration Form. Nowhere should the entrant's name, company, or any other feature likely to undermine the condition of anonymity appear.

The Entry Book should include (in this order):

A cover page with all essential information including:

- architect, date of construction, and location of the mall
- approximate overall square footages of the existing mall
- approximate square footage of the new proposal
- construction type of existing mall
- proposed construction types or systems for proposal
- a statement which describes the selected mall, its context, condition, and the reason(s) for its 'death'
Aerial views of the mall. (no more than 1 page).

Maps showing its context and relationship to adjacent urban center(s). (no more than 2 pages)

Maps describing the layout of the mall itself (no more than 2 pages)

A photographic survey of the mall (no more than 2 pages)

Copies or transcripts of Newspaper articles or other media documenting problems with the entrant's selected mall (two sources minimum)

Diagrams (no more than 4 pages) describing former, existing, and proposed conditions and should, at a minimum, include:

- figure/ground analysis
- program analysis
- traffic circulation
- pedestrian circulation
- signage
- structure
- landscaping
- events

A text which describes the entrant's idea(s) / proposed strategies / concepts (no more than 1 page).

Drawings (sketches, collages, computer modeling or other means to schematically visualize their proposal) including all relevant design information. (no more than 5 pages)

All Phase One entry material must be handed in by, or postmarked by, Monday, November 18th @ 6:00 PM

All material should be sent to:

The Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design
c/o Techentin Buckingham Architecture
201 S. Santa Fe Ave.
Suite 102
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Judging of the competition will happen within the following three weeks of the hand-in date and finalists will be notified by December 9th, 2003


Professionals: $75
Students: $35
L.A. Forum members: $35

Please make all checks payable to the L.A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Design


Phase One will determine twenty-five finalists who will each be awarded $400. Prize money will be distributed to all finalists upon submission of their Phase 2 competition entry. Prizes will be distributed within thirty days of receipt of submission.

Phase Two will determine five winners who will each be awarded $2000. Prize money will be distributed within thirty days following the announcement of the winners.


By entering this competition, you agree to the principals and conditions of the competition guidelines described above. Any submission of work to the competition agrees implicitly to allow the L.A. Forum for Architecture and Urban Design rights to all future exhibition, display, publishing, or reference of your proposal.


For more information contact:

Los Angeles Forum for Architecture and Urban Design
P.O. BOX 291774
Los Angeles, CA 90029

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Paul Clerkin
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