shopping center

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shopping center

shopping center, a concentration of retail, service, and entertainment enterprises designed to serve the surrounding region. The modern shopping center differs from its antecedents—bazaars and marketplaces—in that the shops are usually amalgamated into one encompassing structure. The first modern shopping center, the Country Club Plaza, opened in Kansas City, Mo., in 1922. By 1956, when the first enclosed mall, designed by Victor Gruen, opened in Edina, Minn., a suburb of Minneapolis, about 2,000 shopping centers had been built. The so-called malling of America peaked in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when approximately 60 large malls (more than 400,000 sq ft/37,000 sq m in size) were built annually; over 100 were built annually in some years during that period. In comparison, only about 30 large malls were built in 1998. Shopping centers accounted for about 76% of all nonautomotive retail sales in the United States in 2003.

Of nearly 47,000 shopping centers in the United States, about 1,100 are categorized as enclosed malls, Regional malls contain at least two department stores or “anchor stores” and, depending on population density, attract consumers from within a 20-mi (32 km) radius. Superregional malls, of which about 350 exist, include at least five department stores and 300 shops and may serve an area of up to a 100-mi (160-km) radius. Generally smaller, open-air strip centers, unlike the larger malls, do not usually feature an indoor concourse, although in the 1980s and 90s the construction of enclosed, or all-weather, minimalls began to accelerate. Open-air shopping centers are typically anchored by large grocery stores. Another distinction among shopping centers is location, namely suburban or downtown. In an attempt to revitalize retail sales in central business districts, many large U.S. cities have built so-called festival-marketplaces, which combine shopping, entertainment, and sightseeing. Examples of such centers include Faneuil Hall in Boston, South Street Seaport in New York City, Harborplace in Baltimore, and Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco.

The world's first megamall was the West Edmonton Mall in Alberta, Canada. Long also the world's largest mall at 5.3 million sq ft (493,000 sq m), it was the culmination of the developer's dream of a consumers' and retailers' paradise when it opened (1981–85). The mall contains more than 800 shops, 11 department stores, 110 restaurants, an ice-skating rink, the world's largest indoor water park, 19 movie theaters, a hotel, a chapel, 13 nightclubs, and a replica of Columbus's Santa Maria. The world's largest malls, in Dongguan and Beijing, China, began to open in 2005 and 2004 respectively, though the former is largely without tenants; there are a number of other megamalls in Asia. The largest mall in the United States is the 4.2-million-sq-ft (391,000-sq-m) Mall of America, opened in 1992 in Bloomington, Minn., which features at its center a seven-acre amusement park.


See V. Gruen and L. Smith, Shopping Towns USA: The Planning of Shopping Centers (1960); H. MacKeith, The History and Conservation of Shopping Arcades (1986); J. Garreau, Edge City: Life on the New Frontier (1991); M. Sorkin, ed., Variations on a Theme Park (1992).

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Shopping center

A group of retail stores and service establishments in a suburban area, with parking facilities usually at grade level.
Illustrated Dictionary of Architecture Copyright © 2012, 2002, 1998 by The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc. All rights reserved
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Shopping Center


a complex of functionally and spatially interconnected commercial establishments, food service facilities, and other types of consumer service enterprises. Shopping centers are located on sites with conveniently arranged pedestrian zones, access roads, and parking lots for automobiles; they are built with a view to the accessibility of urban transportation systems, including highways and railroad stations, and with particular consideration given to the flow of pedestrian traffic toward public transportation stops. Shopping centers are also commonly located in the central section of a city or of an urban district—an area that also comprises such social and cultural institutions as clubs, libraries, and sports facilities.

Shopping centers first appeared in the USA during the 1920’s and 1930’s, and in other countries after the mid-1940’s. The rapid growth of such centers in the developed capitalist countries was associated with the concentration of trade in the hands of the big monopolies competing for domestic markets, the decentralization of the big cities as part of the urban population moved out to the outskirts and suburbs, and the growth of public and especially private transportation. Thus in 1973 the USA had 14,500 shopping centers, representing approximately 46 percent of the total turnover of retail goods. Many shopping centers in the USA—as well as in other countries, such as Sweden, Japan, and the Federal Republic of Germany—are located at highway intersections beyond the city limits for the convenience of private automobile owners.

Depending on their capacity and types of services provided, American shopping centers may be divided into three categories: large, or regional (comprising from 40 to 100 stores), medium-sized (20 to 40 stores), and small (ten to 20 stores). In addition to shopping and food service facilities, the centers include banking services, savings banks, and various consumer service establishments. As a rule, shopping center facilities are rented out to large-scale trade companies. In Great Britain, Sweden, and other Western European countries, the new residential developments on the outskirts of large cities generally include shopping centers that can be reached by foot as well as by public or private transportation. The intensive development of shopping centers in the capitalist countries, with its devastating effect on small commercial enterprises, contributes to the high degree of centralization of financial capital.

The USSR has two types of shopping centers. Those of the first type, consisting primarily of the universam, or self-service, type of supermarket, are located in residential zones—namely, mikroraions (neighborhoods), residential districts, interhighway areas, and residential city blocks. The second type consists mainly of urban shopping centers of the kind called univermag, or department store, which includes a large food section—the gastronom. Shopping centers may also include individual specialty stores selling such items as flowers, books, or furniture. The dimensions of shopping centers serving an entire city depend on the types of services provided by the city’s univermags and the size of the population to be served.

The shopping center is a progressive trade arrangement through which many different goods and services are made available at a single site; furthermore, by facilitating the enlargement and cooperation of service enterprises, the construction of shopping centers makes it possible to reduce capital investments by approximately 5 to 10 percent as compared to the cost of building separate facilities.

Shopping centers first appeared in the USSR in the 1960’s, and many have been built in other socialist countries as well—for example, in the German Democratic Republic (such as the Hans Loch center in Berlin and the Yorck-Strasse center in Karl-Marx-Stadt), and in the Czechoslovak Socialist Republic (in Prague, Bratislava, Plzeñ, Brno, and KoSice). In the USSR and in other socialist countries, comprehensive urban development plans generally include the projected development and distribution of shopping centers and other public facilities as a major factor toward the further improvement of services to the population.


Serebriakov, S. V., I. M. Fel’dman, and K. K. Kartashova. Torgovye tsentry. Moscow, 1963.
Torgovye tsentry. Moscow, 1964.
Gruen, V., and L. Smith. Torgovye tsentry SShA. Moscow, 1966. (Translatedfrom English.)


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

shopping center

A concentration of stores, markets, and service establishments, along with parking facilities; often in a suburban location.
McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. Copyright © 2003 by McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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