Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Gallery at Market East: Is it Really That Bad?

A lot has been said about The Gallery at Market East, and very little of it good. And as one who has used many choice words to descibe the mall, I somehow find myself there at least once a week. Why? Because it's convenient. Sure, it's packed with obnoxious teenagers, but what mall in America isn't?

Is The Gallery at Market East really that bad? Let's put aside what architecture was lost to build the mall and take a look at what we are left with. It's not an eyesore, or doesn't have to be. Sure, it's not great architecture, but most malls aren't. Regardless of their brutal and cold exterior, many malls - even ones located in urban cores - continue to thrive

The American Mall is a case study in Marketing 101. No matter where they are or
what they look like they make you want to come inside and spend money. And aside from The Gallery, they make this marketability look so easy. How is it that while other malls - clad in the same windowless concrete - look so inviting, while The Gallery looks more like a Soviet fortress than the symbol of capitalism it should be?

Inside and out The Gallery is clean and practical. Aesthetically it is in need of a very simple makeover. Lighting fixtures and a new font would go a long way toward not only attracting clientele, but also attracting businesses that recognize an organization eager to create a new image. Take a look at Washington's urban mall, Mazza Gallerie. Architecturally, short of a face lift, isn't much different than The Gallery at Market East.

It's in a more subdued neighborhood, true, but doesn't have nearly the number of perks that should theoretically give The Gallery at Market East every conceivable leg up. Our urban mall is a few blocks from some of the most historic grounds in the country, a few blocks from the hotel hub, and a few blocks from some of the most expensive property in the city. And possibly the greatest advantage, it sits on top of the Market East Regional Rail Terminal, SEPTA's subway and trolley lines, and the Patco High Speed Line.

The Gallery has no excuse for a lack of appeal. The only excuse it
can possibly offer is mismanagement caused by laziness.

Pioneer Place in downtown Portland, OR is located at the core of the city and continues to thrive. Note the use of glass on the exterior, while it looks in on mostly display windows it offers a much more inviting appearance, a very simple adaptation that could be applied to all of The Gallery's facades.

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