The Nostalgia of Malls and Why They Are Dying Today

Professor and director of the Georgia Tech Master of Science in Urban Design program, Ellen Dunham-Jones recently connected with WIRED’s Emily Dreyfuss to discuss mall culture and where it is heading today.

In anticipation of season three of the hit Netflix series Stranger Things, which is poised to emphasize the mall culture of the 1980s, Dreyfuss reached out to Dunham-Jones, an expert in dying malls and how to retrofit them for future use.

Dunham-Jones is the co-author of Retrofitting Suburbia: Urban Design Solutions for Redesigning Suburbs, which explores retrofits of aging big box stores, malls, and office parks as they provide healthier and more sustainable places for their communities.

“Newspapers like to jump to the headline that it’s online shopping, but that’s more like the nail in the coffin, than it really is the beginning. The decline of the malls really starts in the 90s mostly because we built so many of them that they started to cannibalize each other.” Dunham-Jones says about the decline of shopping malls. However, Dunham-Jones says that she is most interested in when people are looking at the death of these properties as opportunities to help a 20th century suburb address 21st century problems.

Watch Dunham-Jones’ interview with WIRED here.

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