Ray Bradbury Says His Writings Actually Inspired L.A. Mall Architecture
Ray Bradbury may be known for penning great American novels like Fahrenheit 451, but the writer apparently inspired the architecture and urban development behind L.A. malls like the Glendale Galleria, Hollywood and Highland Center and Century City.
Today, the Paris Review ran an essay by Bradbury himself about his indelible mark on architecture around the world today; it's a piece that's part of the late novelist's recently-released biography, Ray Bradbury: The Last Interview and Other Conversations.
Jon Jerde, the architect for the Glendale Galleria that opened in 1976, told Bradbury that his 1970 L.A. Times article, "The Girls Walk This Way; The Boys Walk That Way," laid the foundation for the shopping center. In that essay, Bradbury lamented that Los Angeles lacked central meeting spots, like the small-town plazas of Mexico or in Paris' many outdoor restaurants and bars.
"Gathering and staring is one of the great pastimes in the countries of the world," Bradbury writes. "But not in Los Angeles. We have forgotten how to gather. So we have forgotten how to stare."
He details how he would bring back the "microscopic community" that he would see in L.A. neighborhoods in the 1930s. Bradbury describes his idea of a central meeting place: one that would have enough tables and chairs for people to converse with their friends, and have restaurants, bookstores and coffee shops surrounding what he called the "conversation pit." He also noted that the area should be open until at least 11 p.m. because of our busy working schedules.
But there was more than just the Glendale Galleria. Bradbury writes that a planning group asked him how he could help them rebuild Hollywood, which he says "at that time was beginning to resemble Hiroshima at high noon." He suggested that they should build something that resembled the set of D.W. Griffith's 1916 film, Intolerance, with "massive, wonderful pillars and beautiful white elephants on top."
Here's a scene from Intolerance that very much resembles the way the mall looks today:
Bradbury writes that he hopes one day they'll call it the Bradbury Pavillion instead.
He says he sort of became a mall guru after that. After his work with Glendale Galleria, a group went to the novelist for advice on how they should build a mall in Century City. While at first they didn't listen to his recommendations, they later came back to him after their project failed and heeded his advice the second time around. He writes:
I told them how to make it more social—they had to put out two hundred tables and chairs and parasols. There had to be twenty or thirty more restaurants! So at the center of Century City, after they had rebuilt it, there was a nucleus of thirty restaurants where you could buy all kinds of food and carry it out to the tables and chairs and umbrellas I had talked about. I also recommended they put a first-class bookstore—Brentano’s—there, and upstairs above that, ten motion picture theaters, so they did it all.
And after a successful run, Bradbury writes that Century City continued to build and he writes, "today it is in very good shape."