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Wednesday
Jun072017

More Than a Mall: A Collection of Experiences

Eastridge Center 2017 – A Pacific Retail Property.

Nestled in the heart of San Jose, California, Eastridge is one of Silicon Valley’s largest shopping destinations, with nearly 1.4 million square feet of retail space. Like many American malls, Eastridge needed an upgrade that would reflect its locale, connect with customers in new ways, and transform the 45-year-old enclosed shopping center into an immersive lifestyle destination.

With a 30-foot interior digital wall, large-scale exterior murals and pocket parks, Eastridge isn’t your typical mall; the new design reimagines the existing mall as a localized urban lifestyle center concept. This new approach challenges the old concept of a mall as an enclosed collection of stores, repositioning the property as a collection of experiences.

Eastridge blurs the boundaries between inside versus outside, leasable versus common area, frontage verses back of house. By challenging the existing program, the design concept turns “unwanted” spaces into environments that embrace new perspectives and rich senses. The mural walls and pocket parks are catalysts that initiate on a small scale, coalescing the best experiences and stimulating the largest acknowledgment and return.

Eastridge Center 2017 – A Pacific Retail Property.

Graphic murals are strategically located on key exterior walls to encourage pedestrian connections and capture visitors’ attention from the surrounding context, i.e. commuters from Eastridge Transit Center; traffic along Capitola Expressway and Quimby Road. Local and international artists will be invited to contribute to the 20,000 square feet of murals, the world’s largest collection of outdoor murals on a shopping center, and the only public art project of its kind in the city. On weekends and holidays, visitors can take part in community-wide art walks and enjoy art, music and refreshments.

Eastridge’s pocket parks convert underused back of house areas into green spaces that flow directly into the entrances and bring the “inside” outside. This concept not only creates a unique entry portal, but also provides local, authentic food and entertainment as an extension of the Eatery. Landscape and design elements are fully integrated into the seating layout with the flexibility to host live performances and community-based activities. Together with the Eatery, the pocket park will turn the project, its immediate surroundings and the entire neighborhood into a lively attraction for visitors, day and night.

Eastridge Center 2017 – A Pacific Retail Property.

Despite questions regarding competition with online retailers and the viability of brick-and-mortar centers, operators are exploring ways to breathe new life into existing retail centers. Backed by a multi-million dollar deal, Eastridge’s revamp signals a long-term investment in the city and positions the property as a valuable asset to stimulate the local economy and engage the surrounding community.

Rose Hung is a licensed architect with a depth of experience in retail centers and commercial mixed-used design. Her project, China Overseas Plaza-Unipark, received the ICSC China Shopping Center Awards in 2015. Before she joined the Retail Centers studio at Gensler Los Angeles, she worked for The Jerde Partnership Inc. in Los Angeles and Aedas Ltd. in Hong Kong. Contact her at Rose_Hung@Gensler.com.