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renovating the nation’s first shopping center


The nation’s first shopping center — the esteemed Highland Park Village — is getting a forward-thinking design that has been years in the making, embodying the essence of the ownership’s original vision for the village’s public realm.

Highland Park Village is the upscale shopping mecca of Dallas. Located in the Highland Park neighborhood, Highland Park Village hosts stores by fashion luminaries like Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Diane von Furstenberg and Christian Louboutin. Opened in 1931, it was the first planned shopping center in the U.S. According to the Urban Land Institute, Highland Park Village was the first mall with a unified architectural style and stores facing inward, toward an interior parking area. It’s recognized on the National Register of Historic Places and as a National Historic Landmark.

Stemming from a renovation effort to the village’s largest building, TBG was engaged to provide corresponding enhancements at the site level of the building. Through the design process, this engagement blossomed into an evaluation of the entire village pedestrian experience and the opportunity to create a plan for its future.The team gravitated toward the mall’s historic vision of a Spanish plaza, with a harmoniously integrated pedestrian-focused character. Highland Park Village’s ownership has long harbored a vision for the village to look and feel like a Spanish plaza. The original owners from the early 20th century visited Spain to study the architecture and find inspiration for Highland Park Village’s original architectural character. To this day, Highland Park Village is noted for its Mediterranean Spanish aesthetic.

Building on this motif, the team created a conceptual master plan addressing every corner of the site, showcasing the impact of eliminating all curbs and creating a unified brick paver ground plane demarcated through banding, details and distinctive patterns. The vision provided the means of enhancing the pedestrian experience, relieving pedestrian and vehicular conflicts, reinforcing the center’s architectural legacy, and fully realizing the potential of its iconic destination.

Seeing how the historic vision of Highland Park Village could come to fruition was a success with the entire Highland Park Village team. The overall conversion will unfold in phases, as the village sees tremendous upticks in visitors during the holidays, and the corner along Preston and Mockingbird is the first piece of the pedestrian-oriented vision.

It will be several years before the entire adaptation is complete, but the seeds have been planted. The desired Old World and pedestrian-driven nature of the mall is finally coming to fruition — as America’s first shopping center is now on track to attain the rich character and pedestrian orientation envisioned decades earlier.