Ghosts of Shopping Past is a gallery of artwork by Chicago-based photographer Brian Ulrich. Posted by The Morning News, these haunting pictures of dead malls and big-box stores are especially relevant to the season, reminding us that "potential ghost towns [lie] inside successful shopping complexes all across America."
Ulrich discusses the implications of this, as well as his artistic process, in the interview that accompanies the gallery, excerpted below: Many abandoned big-box stores are renovated into schools or churches. What do you think should be done with these empty buildings?
Some buildings can be repurposed but so many cannot. Retail design and use is not only based on the space itself but also location. When a few stores go down often many others in an area go with them--a retail ghost town if you will. Though one can repurpose one space it might sit in a vast area of blight. The problem lies not in what we should do with what we have already but it seems more important to get a lot stricter about what new retail spaces we allow into our communities. The promises are always jobs and tax revenue, but that won't help in the long run if the store folds or relocates to the next township who offers an incentive.
It may seem cynical but I personally would like to see many of the spaces simply be turned back into fields, woods, and natural landscape, rather than trying to discover some profound solution. This is actually happening not so much by design in Detroit where entire neighborhoods are disappearing. Rather than design a new use for the space, many are arguing to leave it and let it be.
Locations range from recently closed Pep Boys and Auntie Annes to the truly scary Dixie Square Mall (below) in Harvey, IL, closed since 1981.
A few more images after the jump, but you really should go browse the full gallery here.
Lisa is dedicated to promoting the American contemporary design scene. She keeps herself busy as the co-founder of the Object Design League, an association of independent designers in Chicago, and design practice Smith&Linder, both co-founded with Caroline Linder. She also teaches foundation research studios at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.