Loneliness is at an all time high. The APA (American Psychiatric Association) reported over 30% of adults feel lonely. Malls are one place people go to escape loneliness, but often don’t find it there. You can be with hundreds of others in a modern mall and still feel alone, they lack opportunity for social interaction. Even leaving with an arm full of new purchases can still leave your soul empty for the experience. 

Diane Ionescu in her article “The Mall is Dead - Long Live the Mall” points out this is far from the original thinking of how malls should be when they first appeared in the 1950’s. The original designer of malls, Victor Gruen envisioned the mall as a recreation of a European village with a roof. A place to shop, find services and socialize. As malls prospered and grew, space became too valuable to allow room for socializing. When these over commercialized malls suffered big box store failures, they became dying or dead malls. There was noting left to draw people.

Now these failed malls are beginning to be repurposed and reborn along Gruen’s original concept. Services, libraries, apartments, meeting centers, local restaurants, entertainment, gyms, hotels and a wider range of retailers added to the mix. The result more opportunity to interact with others and new found success for the mall. Maybe Victor Gruen was right, the concept of a village fits naturally with a mall. Perhaps it’s a good model for all all of urban living from subdivisions to districts. The opportunity to be with and interact with others priceless.