Victor Gruen

Victor Gruen (1903-1980) - Architect and Urban Planner
Born in Vienna, Austria. He emigrated to the US in 1938 and changed his name from Gr├╝nbaum to Gruen
He opened an architectural office in Los Angeles in 1948.


Victor Gruen Interior, City National Bank - Los Angeles
  
Gruen's firm also designed Barton's Bonbonniere.
A little more about that here.
Here's some info on Gruen Lighting, which was owned by Bill Gruen, Victor's cousin.

Gruen and his firm were big in the regional shopping center arena, including Northland, which 
is widely known as the first shopping mall. It was built near Detroit, in Sotuthfield, Michigan in 1954.

Alvin Lustig was the graphic consultant on the Northland project. 

Image: Born Modern: The Life and Design of Alvin Lustig

Alvin Lustig even made parking lot signs look cool


Victor Gruen Associates designed the Fulton Mall in Fresno.  
Eckbo, Dean & Willams did the landscape plan. 

There's some great California art at the Fulton Mall, including a lot of Stan Bitters. 
More here


For an Austrian Socialist, Gruen became quite the capitalist and built a lot of suburban shopping malls.  

Later in life it seems like he started to see the failure of his theory that the suburban shopping center
could become a version of the classic European square and gathering space. In 1965 he 
wrote The Heart of Our Cities : The Urban Crisis, Diagnosis and Cure. 

It looks like the cure was to leave town. Gruen, apparently upset at what the US shopping 
mall had become, moved back to Austria in 1967.

Once back in Vienna, he started a pedestrian zone movement. Maybe he felt bad about all the sprawl 
he helped create in the US. I guess he was trying with the Fulton Pedestrian Mall in the mid 60s.

According to a 2004 New Yorker article, Gruen gave a speech in 1978 
where he accused shopping mall developments as having "bastardized" his ideas.

Read more about "The father of the modern US Shopping mall" here
Save the Fulton Mall here