I am not a big fan of the mall concept. Malls have taken the magic both out of Main Streets and out of classic department stores. Malls require me to fight for parking in order to shop at chain stores. Malls are not my friend. I love the Old Town/3rd Street model – a mall/Main Street hybrid – but not so much a Grove or a Westside Pavilion.
However, I do frequent two malls in L.A. on a semi-regular basis: the Beverly Center and the 7th & Fig complex. The Beverly Center has an H&M, and I’ve been waiting for one of those to come to town for years (and telling my conscience, which is concerned about the manufacturing conditions of the clothes, to shut up). Plus, the BC is on my way home from work in Beverly Hills, which makes it almost convenient. And the 7th & Fig complex is where the Golds’ Gym is downtown, and since I’d been a member for years at the Muscle Beach Venice location, that’s where we went when it was time to get gym memberships.
Here’s my gripe: BOTH malls are under construction, and have exposed some design flaws as a result.
The Beverly Center is extremely frustrating to enter right now, since the escalators are under redesign. My friends and I waited ten minutes for an elevator because we couldn’t find the stairs, and by the time each one got to the 2nd floor, it would be crammed full. We finally got smart, went down a flight, and rode back up to the stores. Getting out to ground level streets was almost as confusing, as we took the express elevator back down to the valet area, dodged idiots confused by pedestrians, and cut through to the outside world. Finally, on the way back in, we found the stairs – emergency metal stairs hidden behind the elevators on the La Cienega side – and jogged back up to the car. Seriously, if Mongol hordes were invading L.A. and wanted to loot that mall, it would be safe from them – I think they had a time limit for getting into fortified structures.
The 7th and Fig complex isn’t as confusing, but, for some reason, there is no access to the ground level from ground floor parking. This requires a visitor to go up to the 8th level of the parkade and then take the escalators and elevators down to the first level. It’s clearly marked with signage, and is much less confusing than the BC, but it still adds an extra five minutes each way onto my gym-going experience.
The smart thing to do would actually be to ride my bike into both malls. The BC has a bike rack within sight of the “express elevator” from the valet parking area to the shopping levels. That elevator’s never even half full, and I got in and out quickly and easily when I rode my bike in last week. And the 7th & Fig complex is open on the Fig side, making it easy to go in and out when one doesn’t have to detour via parking. Now that I think about it – these aren’t exactly design flaws so much as just a discouragement for people to go to those two malls with cars. Hey, wait, that’s an advancement!