Saturday, June 20, 2009

When you're a kid, holing up in a shopping mall seems like the coolest, most romantic thing in the world. You'll be around all the stuff you see when Mom's looking for the perfect blouse to fit with that new skirt she found and then yells at you to stay close when she's trying on shoes and don't touch any of those displays. Mom's no fun, and neither are those hovering salespeople who act as though you are being a beast when you wander into the center of the circular clothes racks and pretend that you are in a massive fortress. If you lived at the mall, you could flit from place to place and try things on whenever you wanted, sleep on the mattresses in the furniture store, maybe conk out in that massage chair...sounds like the life.

Well, I know it's been a while since the place was a department store, but somehow, the developers of 1201 Canal Street have taken all of that childish fun out of remaking the old Krauss into condos:
The old Krauss Department Store that operated for almost 100 years on Canal Street was known in part for its women's foundation garments, those heavy-duty contraptions of thick elastic and metal hooks now gone the way of the dinosaur.

Elie Khoury's new home at that same site, now the 1201 Canal Street Condominiums that he developed, showcases foundations, too -- the kind that tend to hold up long after their more modern counterparts have crumbled.

Walk into the 3,200-square-foot penthouse he shares with his wife, Daniela, and 14-month-old daughter, Elise, and the look is strikingly streamlined and modern, yet Khoury likes to talk about the things that aren't so visible: its old bones.

"It preserves the historic fabric, " he said. "We can't do 18-foot ceilings today. What studs would we use? They don't build them like they used to."

Such a shame they can't quite do what some of these folks did in Providence a while back:
Eight artists snuck into the depths of Providence Place mall and built a secret studio apartment in which they stayed, on and off, for nearly four years until mall security finally caught their leader last week.

The story of their audacious stunt — they call it performance art — spilled out in District Court, after the leader, Michael J. Townsend, 36, of Providence, was arrested. He pleaded no contest to a criminal charge of trespassing.

Townsend, a self-described “professional public artist,” said the clandestine project was born of a wish to explore the phenomenon of the modern American enclosed mall, its social implications, and his own relationship with commerce and the world.


Margaret said...

Your first paragraph put me in the mind of From the Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwaller, but with modern commerce instead of natural history.

Leigh C. said...

That's kind of what the "Secrets of the Shopping Mall" book is like in some ways...

Karen said...

I love Providence.

Valerie Celibataires said...

Thanks for sharing this. I'm looking forward to read this book.