Victor Gruen was one of the twentieth century’s most influential architects and is regarded as the father of the U.S. shopping mall. In spring 1979, less than a year before his death, he began reconstructing his life story. Now available in English for the first time, Shopping Town is the long overdue account of a man whose work fundamentally altered the course of city development. Shopping Town opens in Vienna in 1938 with the Anschluss—the turning point in Gruen’s life—as he narrowly escaped the Nazi regime. A few years later, in the suburbs of postwar America, the Jewish refugee sought to reproduce the vitality of Vienna’s city center and invented the commercial apparatus now known as the shopping mall. Gruen’s Southdale Mall in Edina, Minnesota, was the first fully enclosed shopping center in America. He then translated the concept to economically neglected city centers, setting the path for pedestrian zones and fighting passionately for an urban ideal without compromise. Highlighting Gruen’s sense of humor as well as reflections on the complex forces that sustained the postwar transformation of American cities, Shopping Town embeds Gruen’s experiences and perspectives in a wider social and political context while helping us understand his problematic place in American architectural culture. With afterwords by his son and daughter, Shopping Town closes with Anette Baldauf’s richly insightful essay on the legacy of Victor Gruen.
Author: Victor Gruen
Publisher: U of Minnesota Press
Category: Biography & Autobiography
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