Do not call it a shopping mall; call it a campus

With the opening of several hundreds units of housing on a former portion of the Fox Valley Mall, one leader used a different term than “mall” to describe what was unfolding on-site:

Photo by Armin Rimoldi on

While the mall has been around since 1975, Samson said he even has stopped calling the burgeoning “live, work, play” development by that name.

“Notice how I didn’t say mall,” Samson said. “It’s a campus.”

A shopping mall is primarily about commercial activity. A campus implies something different. Probably the most common usage of the term refers to college campuses. On such a campus, there is a variety of activity: residential spaces, social spaces, academic spaces, athletic spaces, and more.

Many shopping malls are hoping for transformations that help them move beyond just stores and a few eateries. The shopping malls that survive the next decade or two could include apartments, condos, townhouses, hotels, restaurants, entertainment venues, and cultural attractions in addition to stores. All of these options would help make the mall/campus more lively throughout the full day rather than just during shopping hours. In this sense, the goal is not that different than numerous mixed-use developments in suburbs and cities: create a home base of residents plus a steady flow of visitors who spend money and contribute to social activity.

Will the term campus catch on to describe former shopping malls? Time will tell and certain influential actors, such as developers, architects, and local leaders, can help make it happen.

Designing your own Peytonville, Part 3

A new Peytonville commercial from Nationwide is on television. This one focuses on the college campus:


For all of the big images from the first commercial – the wide shots of a metropolitan region – the focus here is on a traditional looking college campus. In the image above, there is the impressive brick building, likely home to administrative offices. There is the gate marking the main entrance. Students and other people are walking and biking in and around campus. The lawns are well-manicured, the sidewalks wide.

And lurking in the back left is the football stadium. I should have known that with Peyton Manning in the commercials that the emphasis would not remain solely on small town life outside the big city. In the wide shots from the original commercial, it appears the college campus is on the top left:


The campus is a good distance away from downtown and might even exist on its own platform.

One concern: do viewers associate Peyton Manning more with college football or pro football? He had successful years at Tennessee. But, he really stood out in the professional ranks where he won two Super Bowls, one season MVP, went to the Pro Bowl numerous times, and set multiple passing records. Peyton is on campus in the commercial but wouldn’t he be better set outside of the Colts stadium in downtown Indianapolis or the Broncos stadium in Denver? Such a scene would not lend itself to the green, bucolic college campus.