Numerous articles have chronicled the slow death of the enclosed mall. The malls I frequently visit seem to experience difficulty in retaining retailers and customers. Stores transition quickly and many spaces are left dark and vacant. It reminds me a bit of the broken window theory. A closing of one major retailer signals to customers and surrounding retailers that there’s a disorder in the space. This “signal” results in a decrease in usage and greater retailer turnover.
The Atlantic describes how some have repurposed and retrofitted these large boxes into schools, universities, and medical facilities. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the Capitola Mall, located in Santa Cruz, California, now has a children’s Museum of Discovery and a Learn to Discover MakerSpace! The educational exhibits are interactive and fun for both kids and adults. I thoroughly enjoyed the Air Wall with all the plastic tubing. Insert a few handkerchiefs and watch them scurry along in a race to the finish. It’s a great learning environment that intersects both art and science. Check out the photos below: