Quiz time: What is "the most visited interior space on earth"?

February 06, 2013 |
Rob Cassidy

OK, a little cheating on the question, as you'll see, but according to Susan Orlean, writing in the Feb 11/18, 2013 issue of The New Yorker, the answer is "Walmart stores." Here's what she wrote in a fascinating article, "Walart," about the artist Brendan O'Connell, who paints images from his visits to Walmarts all over the country (his "The Art of Retail" is the only purchased painting in the mega-company's Bentonville, Ark., HQ building):

"The stores became more and more fascinating to him [O'Connell], not just visually but sociologically. For one thing, Walmarts, taken as a whole, are among the most visited interior spaces on earth. For another, O'Connell made a connection that probably few other people have made: the aisles reminded him of the boulevards of Paris; both were bustling worlds of commerce that offered chances for unplanned interactions. [Cassidy note: Shades of Jane Jacobs here.] He saw the soaring infinity of a Walmart superstore as the moden equivalent of a 'Saenredam-like religious space,' referring to the Dutch Golden Age painter whose subject was church interiors. 'They had eight feet of Cheetos!' he said. Where better to study, as the Jesuit scholar Michel de Certeau had done, the 'practice of everyday life'?"

For design/construction professionals who do retail, hospitality, office interiors, schools, student unions, college res halls, or any form of interior design/architecture, Orlean's article - written, as always, with amazing grace and offbeat insight - is a must-read.

Rob Cassidy | Building Team Blog

Robert Cassidy is Executive Editor of Building Design+Construction. A city planner, he is the author of several books, including “Livable Cities,” and was a co-founder of the Friends of the Chicago River.

Related Blogs

Deep Learning + AI: How machines are becoming master problem solvers

The world’s top Go player Lee Sedol puts the first stone against Google’s artificial intelligence program AlphaGo during the third match of the Google DeepMind Challenge match in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Reuters/Google/Yonhap

March 31, 2016 | AEC Tech | Building Team Blog

Besides revolutionary changes to the world’s workforce, artificial intelligence could have a profound impac...

Yotel, New York City. Photo: JasonParis, flickr creative commons

March 09, 2016 | Hotel Facilities | Building Team BlogRobert Cassidy, Executive Editor

Hotels are going for a new minimalist look to attract younger guests, but some older business travelers don...

Is the booming freelance economy a threat to AEC firms?

Photo: Pixabay

February 24, 2016 | Architects | Building Team Blog

By shifting the work (and revenue) to freelancers, “platform capitalism” startups have taken considerable m...

How the Fourth Industrial Revolution will alter the globe’s workforce

Photo: Pixabay

January 26, 2016 | BIM and Information Technology | Building Team Blog

The next great technological metamorphosis will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before, due to...

Potential vs. credential: How men and women differ in career progress

Courtesy Pixabay

January 05, 2016 | Architects | Building Team BlogDavid Barista, Editorial Director

Recent research suggests that women face yet another career impediment: the confidence gap.

Meet the world’s next great construction superpower

Photo: Wili Hybrid via Wikimedia Commons 

December 23, 2015 | Industry Research | Building Team Blog

There’s a new world construction hotbed coming down the pike (more specifically, the Mumbai Nashik Expressw...

Photo: Deskmag via Wikimedia Commons

December 02, 2015 | Building Team Blog

Researchers at Harvard, SUNY-Upstate Medical Center, and Syracuse University conduct a controlled experimen...

Leadership or limbo: Moving to building green’s next level

3 PNC Plaza. Photo: John Marino via flickr Creative Commons

November 29, 2015 | Green | Building Team Blog

After interviewing more than 50 AEC firms for our Greenbuild Report in the November issue, I wonder if the...

Benjamin Kasdan, AIA, LEED AP, NCARB, Design Director/Senior Designer with KTGY Architecture + Planning, Irvine, Calif. (Class of 2015 40 Under 40 winner)

October 26, 2015 | Building Team Blog

Are you an AEC superstar? The 2016 "40 Under 40" competition is now open for entries. Here are some helpful...

Competency-based learning: A glimpse into the future of higher education?

Photo: Xbxg32000 via Wikimedia Commons

October 16, 2015 | University Buildings | Building Team Blog

For better or worse, the higher education experience for many young Millennials and Gen Zers will not resem...

Add new comment

Your Information
Your Comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.
Overlay Init