Category Archives: Dining

Re-energizing Retail

By | Architecture, Dining, Interior Design | No Comments

So much has been said about the death of brick-and-mortar retail and shopping malls but the gloom-and-doom talks, in our opinion, miss the point: The evolution of shopping habits presents a great opportunity to re-imagine these large retail centers into places more in line with today’s lifestyle.

Shopping malls can still be what they were originally conceived for: destination community spaces. In order to play that role, though, they need to adapt to the new ways we like to gather, shop, and spend time. The truth is, consumers of all ages – even digital natives – still enjoy in-store shopping…providing it offers them an experience they cannot have on their device. Re-engaging them means making alternative and creative uses of the existing spaces.

Key Components

Step 1: Giving Consumers New Reasons to Come into the Mall

EXPERIENTIAL COMPONENT: Anchor tenants like Sears and JCPenney used to be a shopping mall’s main draw and all the other retailers wanted to be close to them. Now, those empty units must be reborn into dynamic hubs of community activities.


“Places that were once unwelcomed in malls – event venues, gyms, skating rinks, rock climbing spaces, dirt bike tracks and other recreational facilities – are now the very thing that can turn the fortunes of a mall around because they bring people in.”


“On the other hand, places that have long been a staple of shopping malls – like food and beverage establishments – must evolve from being purely a commodity to deliver a more comprehensive experience rich in entertainment and engagement value.”

Creating an alluring experience also implies dismantling the impenetrable “big box store” architecture in favor of a more open and welcoming exterior aesthetic that invites people to explore all that the site has to offer.


SERVICE LOCATIONS: In the context of bringing people in, even outpatient medical facilities, co-working spaces, and some type of corporate offices can now find a place in malls.

LOCAL FOCUS: Consumers are showing a growing interest in supporting local businesses, so upping their presence can make malls a more attractive destination. Plus, local businesses are less likely to offer online shopping options, which further increases their role in drawing foot traffic.

Lifestyle ConceptLOCAL FOCUS: Consumers are showing a growing interest in supporting local businesses, so upping their presence can make malls a more attractive destination. Plus, local businesses are less likely to offer online shopping options, which further increases their role in drawing foot traffic.

BRINGING THE ONLINE IN: Online sellers are now starting to expand their visibility with pop-up stores. Whether these are short-term or long-term retail strategies, malls can greatly benefit from presenting themselves as ideal locations for these physical extensions. Creating opportunities for visitors to engineer “Instagram-able moments” is another way to integrate the online world into the new mall experience.

2016-03-31 AE - Lab Rendering


*Mojo’s Kiosk located in the common area of the AMA Plaza. 

Step 2: Designing for Engagement

The choice of which type of amenities and stores to bring in is only one part of the equation. Ultimately, it’s the design of the entire mall space that will determine how much time consumers will spend there and what they will do while there.

Key Qualities

At d+k, we believe the goal of design is to maximize the value of the property, for both the user and the owner. That is why we have long focused our expertise on revitalizing commercial buildings that have lost their appeal and using immersive design to create experiential spaces for greater engagement. We are constantly studying trends – how people live, shop, interact with each other and their surroundings – and create designs that not only address those trends aesthetically but first and foremost, turn the trends into business opportunities for our clients.

When it comes to reviving malls, we pay attention to how each asset interconnects with the rest of the space. We look at how the design can facilitate the seamless integration of the retail moments with the social and lifestyle moments people crave, so that the amenities enhance the shopping experience instead of distracting consumers away from it. We make sure that every detail is cohesive and every square foot that is re-purposed into a community space raises the value of the entire mall and goes to the benefit of every tenant.

Do you want to explore the opportunities that revitalizing your mall can create? Let’s talk!