How Every Shopping Mall in America Ended Up Looking the Same

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It doesn't matter where the structure is located: You can depend on the pleasantly disorienting architecture of any given shopping mall in the U.S. to look the same as that of the one in your hometown. As this video from Origin of Everything explains, there's a reason for the lack of variation in mall design, and it can be traced back to 1950s Middle America.

In 1952, an Austrian architect named Victor Gruen was commissioned to plan the country's first-ever indoor shopping center. The Southdale Center in Edina, Minnesota, featured walls lined with storefronts, and located at the center of the building was an open court with fountains, plants, and art where people could congregate. The design was so well-received that architects were quick to copy it when building indoor malls in different suburban areas around the country. Gruen's vision was so widely used that it eventually become the standard.

There's another design aspect that's pervasive in shopping malls: The buildings are laid out in a way that causes shoppers to lose their sense of time and geography. This hypnotic effect is named the "Gruen Transfer," which got its name from the architect.

You can check out the full origin story of shopping malls in the video below.

[h/t Origin of Everything]