3 May 2013

Malls of My Own - The Araby Collection

Lego were always some of my favorite toys. But while most kids were using them to build spaceships or battle artillery, I was using my thousand or so pieces to build entire skylines, stadiums and, of course, shopping malls.

The initial desgn of Salem Square. I originally thought of it as a middle market center, with anchors Hecht's, Hess's, Montgomery Ward and Sears.

Due to a limitation in pieces at one point (I think most were being used for an expansive waterfront model of downtown Chrisburgh), I built a shopping mall without extensive corridors and with a more compact layout. As early as the late eighties, I already realized that malls as they were used too much virgin land, land which would one day be at a premium. With these factors in mind, I devised an interior layout and dubbed it Salem Square Mall.

The second layout of Salem Square, with more upmarket anchors such as Bloomingdale's, Nordstrom, Montgomery Ward (I know, not upscale, but what the hey) and Ceae's (a made up nameplate.)

Salem was an area of Virginia Beach near where we lived. I attended the brand new Salem Junior High School in the middle of dense, winding subdivisions with little room for a full size shopping mall, though the growing population could definitely support one. I thought that this design with its smaller footprint would be perfect to fill the neighborhood's needs.

The one architectural rendering I did of the mall. Based on the above layout, it was a combination of traditional, brutalist and geometric elements.

Salem Square 2.0 had evolved into a more upscale center with diverse offerings, years before the term mixed-use became such a catch phrase. I decided to make the anchors more upmarket (with the exception of Ward's, I always loved that store) and add an office tower-slash-hotel. Instead of acres of surface parking, this Salem Square would be surrounded by several parking decks.

The Galleria at Redstone with anchors Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Nordstrom and Prins (a made up store to compete with the made up Ceae's.)

In the early nineties, I had moved to Huntsville, Alabama. I decided to rename the center The Galleria at Redstone, after the Redstone Arsenal, Huntsville's army facility and main economic engine. It would be built in south Huntsville where the (then) present Haysland Square with its vacant Food World and KMart would be demolished to take advantage of the desireable real eastate on a heavily traveled highway and where much more land would be available.

The Pavilion on Parkway redesign. Apparently, Prins had gone out of business, Bloomingdale's had moved into its space, and Saks (by then based in Birmingham) had moved in.

A few years later, I renamed it yet again to Pavilion on Parkway, after Huntsville's main north-south thoroughfare. I moved it north up the Parkway from where Redstone was, to an area with smaller tracts of land as a means of urban infill. Because of this, as the floorplans show, much of each anchor's ground level was repurposed as covered parking.

II Parkway Center, bringing Lord and Taylor, Mark Shale and Neiman Marcus into Huntsville for the first time.

At about the same time, Parkway City Mall's owners were planning a revamp of the South Parkway facility to be named Parkway Centre. Capitalizing on this new development, I devised II Parkwy Center. It was to be built on limited acreage just to the south of the extant center across Drake Avenue. On the north of the building would be two towers, one commercial space, the other a hotel and residences. On the second level of the main entrance between the two towers would be either a skywalk or a Pearlridge Center style monorail connecting II Parkway Centre to the Parkway Centre just across the street.

The two centers combined.

It wasn't long before I decided to place Pavilion on Parkay and II Parkway Centre into proximal locations and to connect them to each other and a large parking deck via a monorail. Combined, the commercial complex would be called The Araby Collection.

The final design of what once was Salem Square Mall, with Bloomingdale's, Macy's, Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue as anchors.

The entire facility would be decidedly upscale, with the least upmarket anchor being Macy's. Araby One would still be three levels with a more fashion and traditional shopping focus. The entire area would be fully enclosed with no outdoor elements, but still with an office tower above the Bloomingdale's anchor.

II Parkway Centre as Araby Two, keeping Lord and Taylor, Mark Shale and Neiman Marcus as anchors.

Araby Two would still be upscale in its offerings, but would also have much more of a spotlight on entertainment. Still featuring a hotel and residences with it's twin towers at the fore, it would also contain movie theatres and a more diverse selection of restaurants. There would be an outdoor area on the bottom level around a plaza with its circular fountain. There would also be an upper level outdoor element, dubbed the Veranda, where more late night venues would be available. There would be an outdoor common area, possibly open all hours, to market to an all night crowd. Live music and shows would be common occurences on the Veranda.

What started out as Salem Square Mall and presently stands as the Araby Collection is one of my earliest and most evolved designs. It has also been one of my favorites. And though I've made a lot of tweaks to the footprint, overall I seemed to get it right the first time. And that's a rarity for me.

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