Taking the mall out of the mall

12 Sep 2012

The Jerde Partnership reimagines the mall as an outdoor public space

Replacing a 1980s-era enclosed mall with a new urban district connected to its coastal setting, the project fills in a vital missing piece within the downtown core of Santa Monica. Located two blocks from the ocean and historic Santa Monica Pier, existing site conditions are maximised with an open-air footprint seamlessly integrated with the surrounding community. Consisting of over 500,000 sq ft of commercial and public space that incorporates forms, materials, and landscaping native to the city, the design enhances the project's aesthetic and functional fit within the seaside community.

By taking the mall out of the mall, the project now celebrates the coastal city's outdoor experience and intimate scale. The isolated mall was completely transformed by removing its roof and gutting its interior, while still utilising over 50% of the original structure, creating an open-air extension of the famous Third Street Promenade.

Four paths entering from each side of the complex maintain an urban connectivity to the surrounding context, inviting pedestrians to move through the spaces and into a community-orientated central plaza to establish a critical public square as the city's hub. Each entry's design reflects the character of its context: the north as an extension of the vibrant Promenade; the west referencing the softness of the Pacific Ocean and Pier; the south referencing the formality of the administration and civic centers; and the east as an urban corridor connected to the businesses and residences along Fourth Street.

As a major innovative feature to draw pedestrians from the street up into the project, an expansive Dining Deck occupies the third level, offering a public destination for dining, views, leisure, and social activity. Warm materials reflective of the area, and palm trees and jacarandas found along Third Street are used within the plaza, creating a familiarity and a sense that the project organically grew along with the city's urban development and regeneration.

Achieving LEED Gold certification, the project transcends conventional wisdom about the adaptive reuse of retail, creating a dramatic new paradigm for mall revitalisation that will serve as a model for the transformation of failing urban retail centers within the US and around the globe.

Key Facts

Urban design
United States

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