By: Gary K. Dempster • FAIA • LEED AP • CRX • CDP
A current story in Insider, the online zine that tracks the newest and best-of on topics from culture to travel to food, titled “The best shopping mall in every state” features two STIR Architecture projects— the recently renovated Del Amo Fashion Center in Torrance California and Fashion Show, the most popular shopping destination on the Las Vegas strip.
As the article points out, while some malls across the country are struggling, others are thriving. “From thrift shopping to high-end luxury brands, locals and tourists look for the mall that has it all. From the finest dining to movies to a variety of retail shops, they are looking for a one-stop shop.”
The authors used a variety of data points including Yelp ratings, best-of lists, and most-visited lists to determine this list of the best mall in each state. Although we don’t know exactly what those shoppers’ comments reveal, we know what it takes to create destination retail experiences that keep customers coming back again and again.
Both Fashion Show and Del Amo Fashion Center are large scale renovations of existing malls that that had lost their competitive advantage and customer base. When we take up the challenge of transforming an aging shopping center, we don’t begin with physical property, rather we ask questions that will help us understand the aspirations of the customers and mall’s potential:
- Who was your customer?
- Who is your customer?
- Who do you want to be your customer?
The answers to these queries lead to further exploration of the communities served by the center—everything from the reasons locals love their town to the easiest routes to the mall. Doing our “homework” helps us recreate the mall as both a brand and brick and mortar center in ways that engage customers and the larger community.
Fashion Show, Las Vegas, Nevada
Doubling the size of the 1,000,000-square-foot Fashion Show, transformed it from a regional mall into a lifestyle destination for international visitors along the Las Vegas Strip. Although Fashion had long been a successful center, it was competing not only with other retail, but high-profile destinations along the Boulevard including volcanos, dancing fountains, and even a pirate ship.
All that competition also attracted significant numbers of potential customers—25 million yearly visitors at the time of the renovation and expansion— in addition to the local shoppers. Early studies explored who was traveling to the mall and how. Locals wanted to avoid the heavy traffic on the Strip, while pedestrian tourists would walk right by on their way to neighboring casinos. Thoughtful planning and design created easy access to parking at the back of the center for local traffic and a large, high-tech structure known as “The Cloud” that presents a bold image that stands out among the iconic buildings that define the Strip. Suspended high in the air the structure provides shade for an outdoor plaza capable of lowering the hot desert temperature by 15 degrees Fahrenheit. The open-air plaza also serves as an event space where visitors gather to watch images projected against “The Cloud” via enormous LED screens.
Building in the Fashion Show’s brand identity, the indoor areas are organized around a great hall with projecting balconies, soaring columns, and a linear runway that emerges from the floor for fashion shows, which can be projected to the Plaza in real time.
The entire transformation supports a customer service experience synonymous with Las Vegas — live entertainment, concierge delivery, valets, and way station stops throughout the expansive mall.
Gary K. Dempster
FAIA, LEED AP, CRX, CDP