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For a mall to attract adequate traffic, its creators must achieve an incredible feat. Their job is devising what will grow into a community’s central hub, a massive commercial structure, which, by virtue of its very existence, is capable of drawing crowds from miles away, swaying the captivated masses to explore within merely on the promise of possibly finding something worthwhile.

A great mall accomplishes all of this seamlessly; it grabs travelers’ eyes with a crisp or striking external arrangement, and accommodates easy travel within through a smart, accessible internal scheme. Mall architects tackle these tasks using an endlessly creative array of structural layouts, the most fantastic and jaw-dropping of which you’ll find below.

  • Roosevelt Field Mall (Long Island, NY) – One of America’s landmark malls, Roosevelt Field has stood for almost seventy years as a testament to the ingenuity and creativity inherent in great mall design. It was built atop the famed Roosevelt Airfield, an airport once considered the “cradle of aviation,” which hosted the flights of America’s greatest aviators, such as Charles Lindbergh and Amelia Earhart. Designers paid homage to the site’s legacy by decorating the walls with murals of Roosevelt Field’s most historic moments, and installing a life-size zeppelin statue to hover over the food court.
  • The Grand Canal Shoppes (Las Vegas, NV) – It wouldn’t be easy to find a watery matrix of canals and gondolas anywhere outside of Venice, unless, of course, you take a trip to Las Vegas’s Venetian Hotel. Inside, you’ll float among a 500,000 square foot mall-palace divided by watery alleys, where boatmen ferry customers between a series of upscale stores and restaurants. The Grand Canal Shoppes’ clever reproduction of Italy’s waterways mesmerizes over 20 million adventurous visitors per year.
  • The Playground Pier (Atlantic City, NJ) – Sitting adjacent to Caesar’s, the Playground holds a four story collection of over 75 stores and entertainment centers. Its designers realized the mall’s likeliest demographic would appreciate a beachside experience, so they built it atop a pier jutting out over the Jersey waves. But the Playground’s creators weren’t satisfied with their mall simply sitting above the beach, so they equipped its third floor with a miniature indoor coastline, complete with beach chairs and sand.
  • Dubai Mall (United Arab Emirates) – The Dubai Mall is one of the world’s most massive shopping centers by far, not just in size, but the scale of its ambition. Its thousand stores are only partially responsible for the mall receiving over 750,000 visitors a week; between shoppes, Dubai mall patrons tunnel over, under, and through the depths of Earth’s largest suspended aquarium, home to over 300 aquatic species.
  • Mall of America (Bloomington, MN) – Calling the Mall of America a shopping center is like calling a three-hundred-foot tall California Redwood simply a plant. The words do little to express how unique and grand the Mall of America’s design truly is; how it houses a self-contained entertainment mecca boasting everything from amusement parks and water slides to flight simulators and aquariums, and contains over 4.3 miles of sprawling storefront, all of which is lit up intermittently with stunning sound and light shows. Considering all this, it’s no surprise the mall draws over 40 million visitors per year.