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Roosevelt Field Shopping Center

Lionel Freedman, Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Lionel Freedman, Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Roosevelt Field was the prototype of the American shopping mall, responding to the post-war rise of suburban living and the automobile culture that drove it. Upon completion in 1956, it was the largest shopping center in the world (1.4 million square feet). The complex was configured as a ring road around a compact cluster of buildings to minimize walking distances between large magnet stores at either end and smaller shops in between. The rigorously modular development was enlivened by trees, flowers, fountains, music, and creative signage to add interest to the complex, not just for the enjoyment of shoppers but for the entire community. Inspiration came from Pei’s early experience in China where markets, beyond shopping, were vital centers of public life and social exchange.

Roosevelt Field was part of a much larger industrial/commercial/office enterprise developed by William Zeckendorf on the site of the decommissioned airfield made famous in 1927 by Charles Lindbergh’s historic trans-Atlantic flight to Paris.


Site plan / Courtesy of Pei Cobb Freed & Partners

Design Team: I.M. Pei, Design Principal; Owren Aftreth, A. Preston Moore, John LoPinto, Anthony Candido, Design Architects; Don Page, Graphics
Webb & Knapp Real Estate Development Corp.