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What America's shopping mall decline means for social space

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The mall was America’s third place — for better or for worse.

Our lives are lived in 1 of 3 places, the home, the workplace and the “third place,” which is anywhere outside of those two.

Toward the end of the 20th century, the regional shopping mall had become that third place, the hang-out spot in suburban America. This was largely by design — an immigrant architect created the first mall in the vision that it would be a community gathering place.

The plan didn’t work out as he intended. While malls did take off, they more often than not couldn’t quite catch on as ideal “third places.” But with an estimated 25% of shopping malls expected to close in the next five years, there’s an opportunity to re-examine where Americans spend their time and what could be the next iteration of the third place.




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