Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Dempsey's architecture tour: Part 1

Over the last few days, Dempsey has spent almost 8 hours at the most historic building in Minnesota: Southdale Mall.

Designed by Victor Gruen, whom Malcolm Gladwell argues may be "the most influential architect of the twentieth century," Southdale was the world's first shopping mall. It was built in 1954-5 by the Dayton Corporation, which is now better known as Target.

Gladwell said Southdale doesn't feel historic, but compared to South Coast Plaza, the only other Gruen-designed mall I've visited, it feels a bit past its prime.

Dempsey carried his little blue bag around the mall, but he couldn't find anything to buy. Of course, it doesn't help that he doesn't have any money, since he will only work for food.

Luckily, Dempsey didn't go to Southdale for the shopping. He was there on Saturday volunteering for the ADI Public Access test, which every Helping Paws team is required to pass. Dempsey was the "distracter dog," and it was his job to walk around outside, about six feet away from the dog being tested.

It was an easy day for Dempsey. Being a "civilian," he was out of uniform, which meant he had a lower standard for good behavior. It was a much bigger deal for the dogs being tested. Every one of them looked liked show dogs, having been bathed and brushed the day before. Dempsey, being a boy, forgot to bathe and brush himself that morning, and he looked a little unkempt by comparison.

His second trip to Southdale was last night, for a class field trip. The field trip ended with a visit to the food court, where all the dogs sat quietly under tables while we ate a snack. We tried taking a picture of the pack of dogs being good, but since they were all under the tables, it's hard to see anything. You'll just have to trust us that it looked really impressive!

Now that Dempsey is older and has been approved to go more places, we're planning to continue his architecture education by taking him to some of our favorite buildings in Minnesota. Stay tuned for more pics from Dempsey's architecture tour!


  1. I thought it was the first Indoor Mall. Dempsey did not look unkempt by comparison to the Service Dogs being tested, just not quite as well dressed since he didn't have on his Helping Paws suit.

  2. Dempsey's dad here: Sorry for the confusion. Southdale is indeed the world's first indoor mall, which is what I meant by "shopping mall."

    I think it's a fascinating story, how an icon of bourgeois consumerism, which critics say has privatized public space, was invented by a socialist.

    Dempsey just thinks it's a fun place to hit the switches that open the doors and to ride the glass elevators. :-)

  3. Don't forget to include "the State Fair Tradition" now housed near the Conservatory in Como Park. Jazz