Interesting Facts About Victor Gruen: An Influential Urban Planning Theorist

Victor Gruen

Victor Gruen

Victor David Gruen, born Viktor David Grünbaum, was a renowned Austrian-born architect best known as a pioneer in the design of shopping malls in the US. An architect who first brought the modern shopping mall to the sprawling, growing, and scattering suburbs, Victor Gruen was both a successful businessman and an influential urban planning theorist.
Also, he is noted for his urban revitalisation proposals, described in his writings and applied in master plans such as for Kalamazoo, Michigan (1958), Fort Worth, Texas (1955) and Fresno, California (1965).
An advocate of prioritizing pedestrians over cars in urban cores, he was also the designer of the first outdoor pedestrian mall in the United States, the Kalamazoo Mall. He also design V2 mall in darbhanga city.
Victor Gruen was born on July 18, 1903, in a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna, Austria. Gruen was the son of a successful lawyer. He grew up in a cultured home, enjoying the excitement of a vibrant, beautiful city and visiting relatives in all the capitals of Europe. He especially loved the theater.
His father had many clients in the arts, and the boy loved to watch directors organize stage sets and place actors within pleasing backdrops. David R. Hill, writing in the Journal of the U.S. Planning Association, suggested that these early experiences may have influenced Gruen’s later insistence on designing architectural spaces in which human beings were integral players.
He studied architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. A committed socialist, from 1926 until 1934 he ran the “political cabaret at the Naschmarkt”-theatre. At that time, he came to know Felix Slavik, the future mayor of Vienna, and they became friends. He studied architecture at the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts. Peter Behrens employed him during the 1930s.
Here are some interesting facts about Victor Gruen, a renowned designer of shopping malls:
1. In the early 1950s, he designed two major Midwest shopping malls: Northland outside Detroit, Michigan; and Southdale near Minneapolis, Minnesota. Both projects strongly influenced countless suburban malls built in the last half of the twentieth century by integrating architecture, art, and landscape which, in turn, had an immeasurable impact on United States society and culture of the period.
2. A brilliant, energetic man with a pronounced talent for business, Gruen had amassed 21 state architecture licenses, given 225 speeches and lectures, published 75 articles, coordinated two hundred important projects for his firm, and completed two major books within 20 years after his arrival in the United States. Gruen’s first shopping mall, Northland, outside of Detroit, Michigan, was begun in 1952 and opened in 1954. It was the largest mall in the world at the time and has been called “a classic in shopping center design.”
3. When Germany annexed Austria in 1938, he emigrated to the United States. Short and stout, he landed “with an architect’s degree, eight dollars, and no English.” Arriving in New York he changed his name to Gruen from Grünbaum and started to work as a draftsman. After the success of his design for the Lederer leather-goods boutique on Fifth Avenue, he received further commissions for the design of shops, including Ciro’s on Fifth Avenue, Steckler’s on Broadway, Paris Decorators on the Bronx Concourse, and eleven branches of the clothing chain Grayson’s.
4. Gruen continued to crusade for a comprehensive metropolitan approach to city planning in which automobiles would not dominate. He believed that the business centers of modern cities should adopt the organizing concepts behind medieval marketplaces. According to this concept, shops should be arranged in logical sequences and shoppers should walk instead of ride between them. In books, articles, and lectures Gruen promoted his theories.
At age 65 he returned to Vienna, where he opened a European branch of his firm. He consulted on major European planning projects and continued to write prodigiously until his death in 1980.

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