Bill Taubman's Sustainable, Social, Evolving Vision
City Creek Center

William Taubman is the CEO of Taubman Centers, a real estate investment trust that owns, develops, acquires and operates high end/upscale suburban shopping centers in the US. His latest work, co-developed with the Mormon Church, will open on March 22, 2012. The $1.5-2B City Creek Project will be one of the largest mixed-use developments in the U.S. City Creek is a sustainably designed, walkable, urban community of residences, offices, and retail stores on 20 acres of land spread across three blocks in downtown Salt Lake City. City Creek Center has been Silver LEED Certified.

When I interviewed Bill Taubman two years ago, he already had City Creek Center on his mind. He told me he was working on an exciting project across from Temple Square in Salt Lake City. He then said the luxury mall idea was evolving, with a strong heart, and went on to say that " component of the strong heart is understanding that the Mall is a social environment, as much as it is a shopping venue. If you look at it this way, the Mall is an area where people seek out people, talk, eat and purchase, so another component of the strong heart is the high end shopping experience.”

Recently, I asked him what he thought of what he said two years ago, in light of the imminent opening of City Creek Center. "It is as relevant now as it was two years ago.” he said. “Now, we are re-engaging and expanding the heart of the retail experience in Salt Lake City. First, as regards to the shopping experience, there are luxury brand stores that will be a first to Salt Lake: Tiffany’s, Michael Kors, Coach, Brooks Brothers, TUMI, Porsche Design Store and others. This is the one dimension. But from an important historic dimension, an awareness to where we are, the historic South Fork of City Creek itself has been recreated, and it flows — 1,200 feet down, around and through the mall, reminding people of its relevance to Salt Lake history.

"This important mountain stream was one of the main reasons why Brigham Young first settled where he did, with the Mormon pioneers and farmers, as they needed to be near a clear water source. We feel that City Creek reminds all of us of the importance of the past, flowing through the present.”

Combining past and present, while looking toward the future is one of many social nuances that Mr. Taubman brings to this project. He has a philosophical edge, as he studied moral philosophy at Cambridge in England, after receiving a degree from Brown University with a triple major in Philosophy, Religious Studies and Russian. He understands the diffuse differences between value and cost, glitter and authenticity. And combining a sense of the past with present, architecturally, is a theme that, like City Creek, flows through the two city block, 700,000 foot retail experience.

As another example of past with present, edgy with historic, are the two anchors of the Mall, Nordstrom on West Temple, and Macy’s on South Temple. The exterior of Nordstrom has a two-story, contemporary translucent glass wall of LED lights that glow and subtly change colors. This is the only Nordstrom exterior of its kind, showing merchandising windows and a two-story entrance in a completely new way.

Whereas, Macy’s exterior is framed by the restored façade of the historic Zions Co-operative Mercantile Institution® (ZCMI®) building. Founded in 1868, ZCMI® was once the largest retail establishment west of the Mississippi River, and is still considered America’s first department store. The building’s original cast-iron façade was restored 35 years ago by a local company that was re-hired three years ago to again restore it as part of the overall City Creek development. More than 1,000 components of the 75-foot-tall storefront were meticulously removed, catalogued, cleaned, repaired and reassembled.

"But there’s more,” said Mr. Taubman. “There are two 18-foot waterfalls, and three unique fountains, created by WET Design, the water architects that created the Bellagio Fountains in Las Vegas. The flow and sound of water is an integral part of this project: it provides a sense of relaxation and comfort to the shoppers and visitors.”

"And another one of our differentiators also has to do with shopper comfort.” Mr. Taubman continued. “It is our fully retractable roof that extends over the shopping area. Due to the changeable nature of Salt Lake’s mountain weather, we thought it would be a good idea to extend the number of shopping days as much as we could. In the summer we open the roof, and in the winter we can close it, keep the temperatures quite comfortable at all times. And, to my knowledge, this is the only fully functional one in the United States.

“This kind of comfort adds to the sociability of City Creek Mall, it is as much a social environment as it is a shopping one. In addition to shopping areas, there must be gathering places. So, we also have an outdoor, four walled fireplace area at Regent Court. The four sides feature art relief panels depicting Utah’s four seasons. The fireplace area overlooks the waterfall and winding stream below.”

Other amenities include a skybridge over Salt Lake’s main street that connects retail stores; etched glass panels forming the skybridge roof automatically lift open to provide cross ventilation. Floor-to-ceiling glass walls provide views up and down Main Street, and feature etching of the tree canopies along City Creek. Visit to learn more.

Susan Kime

Susan Kime's career combines publishing, journalism and editing. She was the Destination Club/Fractional Update Editor for Elite Traveler, and senior club news correspondent for The Robb Report's Vacation Homes. Her work has been published in Stratos, Luxury Living, European CEO, The London Telegraph, Caviar Affair, ARDA Developments, and Luxist/AOL. She was the Editor-in-Chief of Travel Conno...(Read More)

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