Victor Gruen is considered the architect who invented the ‘shopping center’. It was the early Fifties in the United States and the urban and social transformation of the cities led to a widespread development of the suburban areas, with a population distribution extended territories, easily reachable thanks to the increasing use of cars.
It is in this context that the first shopping centers were created to gather many shops and restaurants in one, easily accessible location that can be reached without parking problems.
The function of the Historic Center that characterizes all European cities, large and small, finds in the shopping center a modernized replica of the social evolution of the second half of the 20th century; still alive and prosperous today. The ones shown below are interesting examples of California’s shopping centers in which the beauty of public spaces is expressed also through the quality of their lighting and furnishings. A model similar to the investments that in the past decades have favored the European historic centers considered to be the heart and most important part of a city.
The urban model of reference for this type of Shopping center is that of a large central town square, in which to park the car, surrounded on one or more sides by commercial buildings built in attractive architectures. It is in front of these buildings, a pleasant area for a stroll, that we often find Neri lamp posts, benches, bollards, litter bins and planters to add value to the entire complex with their refined quality.
Los Olivos, Irvine
Design products generally characterize the external perimeter of the parking lot, which, being a place of transit, is lit by elements of lesser value. In some cases however, the aesthetic element of the parking lot leads to extending the design value also to this area, using quality products and clearly sending a message of enhancement that is immediately perceptible.
Harbor View, Newport Beach
The design of the various shopping centers, though replicating the same building format, is often diversified in both the architecture of the building and the type of Neri lamp posts, which in each context have a different and original look.
The Commons, Calabasas
Finally, the Commons adopt an original layout; they do not have a central square but an elegant street along just one side and facing a convenient, large parking lot.