Even though I was only five years old when I lived in Mt. Prospect, and we were only there for a year, Randhurst made an impression on me. Maybe it was the mall's unique architecture; even if I'm not sure how much the intricate design could be appreciated by a kid that young, I was at least old enough to know that it "looked cool." Or maybe it's just that it's the first time I ever "went to the mall" when I could actually remember it. For whatever reason, the place has a permanent spot in my memory.
The center's Wikipedia article describes the design thusly:
Randhurst was designed by Victor Gruen, a pioneer of modern shopping mall design. Unlike most shopping malls of the time, which were built in a straight line between two anchoring department stores, Gruen's design was shaped like an equilateral triangle, with an anchoring department store at each angle. Additional stores lined the sides of the triangle on two levels: a conventional level and a level located half a floor below the first level (down a flight of stairs), facing the first level. A floor of offices occupied the level above this "subfloor" of stores. A ring of clerestory windows was mounted in a domed area over the center of the mall; mounted just inside these windows were numerous stained glass windows in various oval and round shapes, oriented in such a way as to cast beams of colored light into the mall itself. As the mall was built at the height of the Cold War, it included a fallout shelter big enough to hold every citizen of Mount Prospect.Again, I send you to this photo to get an idea of the unique design. Architecturally speaking, the place was definitely one of a kind.
As I said in the earlier post, had I known of Randhurst's fate when I was in Mt. Prospect over spring break, I would have certainly adjusted my schedule in order to stop in and look around one last time. But today, it faces the wrecking ball, and one can only hope that its New Urbanist replacement (to open in 2010) will revitalize the area. In the meantime, I found a bunch of tributes in various places on the Web:
- The Mt. Prospect History site chronicles the early days of the mall.
- A former tenant recalls the demographic changes that led to the mall's demise.
- Suburban moms will miss the mall, whose large play area (including a very cool carousel) served as a "winter playground" for their kids.
- A collection of pictures from the Stores Forever blog
- And an even bigger collection of pictures posted by a Flickr member; a good shot of the carousel may be found here. (And I was disappointed to read that mall security kicked this photographer out; if he was taking pictures a month before the mall closed, then it seems that chronicling history should take precedence over whatever rules were in place in the past....but that's just me.)