Who Is Involved in Designing a Shopping Mall?

Who Is Involved in Designing a Shopping Mall

We use shopping malls daily but seldom stop to think of the huge amount of work involved before they can open their doors to the public. Designing a shopping mall is a huge and complex project. We describe the roles of the different specialists who contribute their skills to the end result.

The Developer

The developer of a shopping mall looks for suitable real estate for mall construction. The size and shape of the land will determine what can be built on it and the form it will take. The developer will also have to hire various experts to deal with different aspects of the design.

They will have to determine how much income can be made from developing the property and leasing shops out to various retailers, restaurants, and entertainment areas. Sufficient parking must be provided to accommodate the expected numbers of shoppers at its peak times. They must account for walkways for foot traffic and the general layout of shops. Decisions about security, orientation, landscaping, medians, and islands will have to be made. Provision must be made for the supply of water, electricity, and drainage.


Developers often hire Western architects with previous experience in designing malls. The developer will provide a brief from which the architect must work. This brief must be comprehensive to ensure that the final design meets the developer’s requirements.

Special attention must be paid to the entrance to the building. In larger malls, there will be several entrances, possibly reached from the outdoor and/or basement parking. These areas make the first, hence lasting, impression. A theme might be selected, such as a water fountain. Disabled shoppers must also be catered to. The mall needs to attract all types of shoppers to ensure its patronage and the amount of money it will generate.

The final design must be aesthetically pleasing. The different areas of the mall need to make up a unified whole rather than a collection of areas thrown together piecemeal. A choice must be made whether it should integrate with its surroundings or stand out from the structures around it.

Civil Engineers

Civil engineers are hired to look at the structural designs of malls. They provide technical drawings or blueprints for the construction teams to follow. They will consider aspects such as connecting the mall to existing stormwater and sewerage systems.

Additionally, civil engineers manage the actual construction process. They will determine which parts of the mall must be built first and take responsibility for receiving quality materials on-site. The civil engineer will ensure that timelines are adhered to and that the work is done within budget.

Elevator Consultants

Elevator and escalator consultants must be involved in the project from the design phase. They will determine how many of each are needed and where they should be placed. An elevator consultant will also oversee installation according to strict standards.

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Safety Officers

Safety officers are involved during planning and construction. They must ensure that construction workers abide by safety rules. Once the mall is constructed, safety officers need to make sure that there is an evacuation plan and that shoppers are not in danger of fires breaking out due to substandard building supplies. They need to make sure that fire escapes are included in the plans.

We have looked at some of the key role players in mall design. Many other specialists will be involved in the construction phase.

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