Northland Center Mall


The COVID-19 pandemic has adversely impacted all areas of society. It has exacerbated economic shortfalls in many cities and accelerated the demise of the physical retail industry in particular, antiquated large scale shopping malls. As urban and suburban malls close, many abandoned sites are ripe for redevelopment. Our idea involves a dynamic mix of cultural space, public amenities, restaurants, retail and housing coming together as a new form of community center by re-purposing obsolete sites. The Northland Center Mall in Detroit, Michigan, an underperforming shopping venue, is used as a case study for economic redevelopment and community revitalization through adaptive reuse and creative placemaking for the performing arts.


  • 125 acres
  • Converted parking to activity spaces
  • Repurposed department stores
  • New performance venues
  • New seating and queuing typologies
  • New mixed use program


The program for this performing arts typology incorporates new entry sequencing and seating layouts that can meet current social distancing requirements and adapt once these customs change. By taking advantage of the generous space malls have to offer, some of the existing uses can remain while providing additional public and outdoor spaces for gathering, maximizing flexibility for year-round use.