Architecture + Film

Architecture + Film



In The Gruen Effect: Victor Gruen and the Shopping Mall, an architect’s life, work, and critical humor become a means to make sense of the cities we live in today. View trailer.

The Viennese architect Victor Gruen (1903-1980) is considered the father of the shopping mall. His ideas about urban planning, both influential and abused, have led to cities that thrive on consumerism. By tracing Gruen’s path from pre-war Vienna to 1950s America and back to Europe in 1968, the documentary explores the themes and mistranslations that have come to define urban life.

Before Gruen, "suburban shopping centers had always been in the open, with stores connected by outdoor passageways," wrote author/journalist Malcolm Gladwell in a 2004 story for The New Yorker. "Gruen had the idea of putting the whole complex under one roof, with air-conditioning for the summer and heat for the winter. Almost every other major shopping center had been built on a single level, which made for punishingly long walks. Gruen put stores on two levels, connected by escalators and fed by two-tiered parking. In the middle he put a kind of town square, a 'garden court' under a skylight, with a fish pond, enormous sculpted trees, a twenty-one-foot cage filled with bright-colored birds, balconies with hanging plants, and a café."

The 2009 film has a runtime of 50 minutes. A presentation by Cathy Morrison, an architect at Gantt Huberman Architects, will precede the screening. Morrison will explain Charlotte’s mall history and how some of the area's older malls have been transformed into multi-use centers. Given the fact no enclosed shopping malls have been built in Charlotte since 2006, Morrison plans to lead a discussion after the film about the city's changing consumer needs and whether Gruen’s invention may be obsolete. 


An event reception begins at 6 p.m. in the Bechtler lobby followed by the presentation and film screening at 7 p.m. Tickets are $10 for non-members and $8 for members. Cash bar and free light bites. Tickets may be purchased online, by phone 704.353.9200 or at the visitor services desk.

The Bechtler’s Architecture + Film series is developed in conjunction with AIA Charlotte.

Photos courtesy of pooldoks

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ex © 2018 Bechtler Museum of Modern Art All images and content copyright. All rights reserved. Credits: Design: MODE. Artwork Photography: JoAnn Sieburg-Baker, David Ramsey General Photography: Eric Bahrs, Mitchell Kearney, Gary O'Brien, Nancy Pierce, Maxim Vakhovskiy Copywriting: Pam Davis Charlotte Skyline Photo: courtesy of Visit Charlotte School of Paris: John Boyer (Copy), MODE (Design)
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