Gruen, Victor

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Gruen, Victor

Victor Gruen (grōō´ən), 1903–80, American architect, often called the inventor of the modern shopping mall, b. Vienna as Viktor David Grünbaum. In Vienna, he studied at the Technological Institute and Academy of Fine Arts, worked for Peter Behrens, and opened (1933) his own architectural firm. He fled Nazi Germany's annexation of Austria, moving (1938) to the United States and becoming a citizen (1943). His innovative design for the Lederer leather-goods shop (1939) on New York's Fifth Avenue was the first of several early retail projects. In 1951 he founded Victor Gruen Associates, bringing together an outstanding group of architects, engineers, and planners. The firm proved to be a major force in the design of renovated center cities and in the creation of the large shopping malls that came to dominate suburban commerce and entertainment. As an urban planner, Gruen was instrumental in formulating master plans for such cities as Fort Worth, Tex. (1955), Kalamazoo, Mich. (1958), Cincinnati, Ohio (1963), Fresno, Calif. (1965), and Tehran (1963–67). Among his most notable shopping-complex projects are the Northland Center (1954) in suburban Detroit; the Southdale Center (1956) in Edina, Minn., outside Minneapolis, America's first enclosed mall; the Cherry Hill Mall (1961), in the New Jersey suburbs of Philadelphia; and Midtown Plaza (1962), Rochester, N.Y.

See his Shopping Towns USA: The Planning of Shopping Centers (with L. Smith, 1960), Heart of Our Cities: Dianosis and Cure (1964), and Centers for the Urban Environment: Survival of the Cities (1973); biography by M. J. Hardwick (2004).

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