At KCET's Artbound site, Oliver Wang considers Universal CityWalk and its place in mall culture and Los Angeles culture. First of all, the place is practically a panopticon, with both a private security force and an embedded LA County sheriff's substation, but we guess that's to be expected when you're dealing with thousands of Slurpee-huffing teens every day. But things get weirder:
-- CityWalk was actually one of the first malls to return to an open air layout post-fifties--it was built in 1993 during the height of enclosed Galleria-dom. However, Wang writes that "CityWalk, in many ways, is still organized much like an indoor mall - all its shops face across an interior corridor while the exterior walls are featureless. Like many indoor malls, it still maintains an atrium, a curious feature for an outdoor space."
-- Disneyland's Main Street was built to scaled-down proportions in order to feel more homey; CityWalk "is built at a larger scale, thus making the viewer feel smaller in the face of such 'looming' buildings."
-- Mall creator MCA Development "saw the complex as an 'idealized reality' of city living," in counterpoint to Venice, which head Lawrence Spungin thought was too full of poor people begging for food.
To that last point, Wang adds that the urbanish "idealized reality" that CityWalk shoots for "is one of the clearest, most literal examples of what L.A. historian Norman Klein describes as the 'social imaginary,' i.e. "a collective memory of an event or place that never occurred, but is built anyway.'"
· Considering CityWalk: A Brief History of the Mall and Artificial Neighborhoods [Artbound]