Editor s Choice. What to read this month. The Atlantic Monthly,
November 2006. Amid the mid-century debates surrounding the
development and transformation of the American city and suburb, a
renowned architect-planner, Victor Gruen (1903-80), became one of
the most important figures in this rapidly changing context.
Tremendously influential during the 1950's and 60s, Gruen's
work was driven by urban planning problems created by the rapid
onset of new suburbias, urban highways, and the subsequent
deterioration of existing downtowns. Dubbed the pioneer of the
shopping center, Gruen envisioned the suburban mall as a new type
of urban public space in the new dispersed residential fabric. In
this book, which outlines the theories and projects that mark a
thirty year period, Alex Wall presents the largely overlooked story
of conflict between the ambition of an architect and the
transformation of American society, its cities, and its landscape.
Through a roughly chronological structure, Victor Gruen, From Urban
Shop to New City fills a gap in the architectural character of
postwar America, as well as provides insight into the ongoing
validity of Gruen's theories and work within current discourse
of the contemporary city.