I took an adventure trip to the world of Fair Oaks Mall in Fairfax, Virginia on Thursday. This forbidding, futuristic environment houses 189 stores full of goods that I would not buy, and one, Sears, where I did buy. As I sipped coffee from the mall Starbucks,, which may also qualify as a store at which I bought, I drew pictures of the interior from my secure vantage point. Note the shapely naked leg of a middle-aged male native, in the foreground.
The ceiling of the mall is broken up into an irregular jumble of hard angles, flat planes, and skylights, some lit by artificial light and some by sky or sun. It's kind of like Escher on cocaine. The mall opened in 1980, and it is brutalist architecture of the 1980s assigned to a consumeristic, commercial space. These bizarre, ominous coffers, painted white, are designed so that the viewer hardly knows which is vertical and which is horizontal. It was quite a challenge to draw. You would think that these flat, complexly angled spaces would absorb sound and make the mall quieter, but in fact they reflect sound all over the place and this is one of the noisiest malls I've ever visited.
And there in the atrium is the Elevator of Doom, oscillating ponderously between the dim netherworld and the searing heights. Made of industrial steel with lights and rivets, looking vaguely like Darth Vader's mask done in polished metal and plate glass, this conveyance gives the mall-goers a panoramic view of the fountain, the hallways, and the retail prospects at every angle.
Pitt drawing pen on sketchbook pages, October 7, 2010.