On Horton Plaza…

When I think back to ETCon and my time in America my mind can’t help catching onto images of Horton Plaza in San Diego – the Escher-like mall-from-hell that kind of sat in my head and unfolded its sprawling, immoral, monstrous, mis-shapen, rhizomatic self into the nether regions of my cerebral cortex while I was busy looking for Tacos. I’ve tried to collage together a partially exploded view of the place but it’s not particularly representative. Apparently the architect wanted to create an ‘architecture of confusion’ where you would get completely immersed in the experience of the place, not want to leave and stumble upon new shops serendipitously. Personally I found the place mind-destroying, confusing, uncomfortable and not-a-little creepy. I kept seeing shops that I wanted to get to but could see no obvious way to do so and wandering down apparent walkways or paths that would suddenly turn into cul-de-sac balconies. It took me fifteen minutes to find the top floor food-court and a further ten to escape. The maps were of no help whatsoever. I kept expecting to see David Bowie glued to a ceiling twirling a glass orb on his fingertips. Very strange. Unsurprisingly, Matt loved it.

3 replies on “On Horton Plaza…”

Those Westfield Malls, which can be found all over California, are all pretty insane in their scale. I’ve certainly never been a lover of malls, but it wasn’t until I moved out here that I actually began to consider them terrifying. One of my favorite fish taco chains actually has a franchise at Valley Fair in San Jose, but I only manage to get their food when I go back to Colorado because I *simply cannot deal with the mall*.
You should see the places around Christmas…

Westfield shopping centers are taking over the Chicago area too. After visiting several, I’m quite convinced that excessive shopping isn’t simply a popular American pastime. Mall crowds are instead the result of peoples’ inability to find their way out of these consumer labyrinths. Many unfortunate soles end up merely purchasing “supplies” to survive until they can architect their escape.

I always found Horton Plaza a pleasant place to get lost, but there was a trend in the ’70s and ’80s to create malls that were hard to understand and difficult to get out of. The examples in my hometown of Vancouver (such as Lansdowne Park Mall in Richmond) are particularly egregious because they are windowless, dark, dreary, terra-cotta circular monstrosities. I’m glad that newer malls I have experienced are returning to simpler layouts that are easier to navigate.

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