Canadian Architect


Pedestrian Modern: Stores, Shopping Centres and American Architecture, 1950

July 27, 2008
by Canadian Architect

Canadian Centre for Architecture Visiting Scholar David Smiley will lead this seminar at the CCA in Montreal on Thursday, July 31, at 6:00 pm.

Most architectural histories of modernism represent stores and shopping centres as secondary, compromised and circumscribed undertakings of little professional or disciplinary relevance.

Pedestrian Modern shows instead that large and small retailing projects in mid-century America played a key role in the shaping of a normative modern architecture. This seminar will examine two episodes in the design culture of stores in the late 1940s: a comparison of two storefront manufacturer catalogues and an examination of site-planning strategies for several early shopping centres. In both cases, most evident is how architects framed the store and shopping centre as vehicles for learning, interpreting and applying the tenets of a modernism that was still in flux.

David Smiley is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Studies at Barnard and Columbia Colleges in New York. He has written on architecture, cities and suburbs and in Perspecta and Lotus magazines, the Urban Design Review, Journal of Architectural Education and the Journal of Urban History. In 2002, he edited Redressing the Mall: Sprawl and Public Space in Suburbia for the National Endowment for the Arts, charting debates in the reuse of aging shopping malls and, in 2001 he co-wrote Hell’s Kitchen South: Developing Strategies, a community-based urban design study for the Design Trust for Public Space (NYC). He is currently working on Pedestrian Modern, a study of the relation of architectural practice, urban planning and shopping centres before 1955. Smiley is also a licensed architect in New York State.

Admission to the seminar is free. For more information, please call 514.939.7001 x 1409 or visit

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect

Canadian Architect is a magazine for architects and related professionals practicing in Canada. Canada's only monthly design publication, Canadian Architect has been in continuous publication since 1955.
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