Southdale Shopping Center, 10 Southdale Center, Edina, Minnesota

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Southdale Shopping Center

Address: 10 Southdale Center
Edina, Minnesota
Hennepin County, Minnesota
State/province: Minnesota
Country: United States
Year Established: 1956
Historic Function: Commercial district
Historic Function: Shopping Center
Other Historic Function: Shopping Center
Current Function: Commercial district
Notes: Architects: Victor Gruen and the Dayton Family

Edina Hennepin

Built in 1956 the Southdale Shopping center is home to 72 tenants. The project was commissioned by the Dayton Family and was set to be the first indoor shopping center in the world. Site: Located on the site of the Robinson-Day “Oak Lodge” estate which is a 200 acre property that was originally purchased by John Robinson for hunting but later turned into a summer home. The site is currently surrounded by major retail stores and various other buildings including a hospital and another shopping center, the Galleria.


Victor Gruen, an Austrian immigrant and European-style socialist. Gruen viewed individual downtown store as ineffective. He saw no point in each store having its own structure and building. For a long time Gruen wished to create a space that could combine the individual store with the things that everyday people like to do, creating one large space that encased various amenities for everyone. He had hopes of creating more than just a shopping center, but a place in which people could live, work and relax. He had the dream of creating a small city for a comparison, he thought the idea of having everything in one place is just what this world needed, everything from schools, political spaces, offices, police and fire stations and housing.


The shopping center cost an estimated $20 million, rising up three stories and having nearly 800,00 square feet of usable space, for tenants. The major feature in the shopping center is the center courtyard, which Gruen calls the Garden Court. The Garden Court was an essential part of the design of the building, and Gruen’s goals of creating much more than just a mall. The Garden Court was essential to the design based around bringing together spaces that people could go to just to hangout. At the time of its construction the Garden Court was the largest indoor public area in the United States. The mall was originally anchored by four major department stores at each corner, Dayton’s, Donaldson’s, Walgreens and Woolworth.


The Southdale Shopping center is the first modern indoor shopping center in the world, encompassing an original 72 stores in one large building. The ideals of this project were in line with that of master planned cities, full of green space like European town centers and the arcades of gallerias. The mall was commissioned to create a new shopping experience and attempt to bring new life to suburban living. Gruen wanted to challenge the car-centric America that was, at the time on the rise.

Historical Context:

The Southdale Shopping Center holds a great amount of historical context because of its ground breaking attempt to create a shopping center that would be the precedent for just about every single mall in America. This mall was set to be the first-of-its-kind indoor, climate controlled shopping center. The idea that the mall could occupy more than just retail space and to create a public space that is inviting for everyone, was the forefront of the indoor mall revolution. Gruen’s values of the mall and the car-centric America were reflected in his attempt to create a centralized community to battle the American suburbs of cul-de-sacs and carpools.


  • 1952: Dayton and Gruen begin planning of the Southdale Shopping Center
  • October 29, 1954: Groundbreaking of the mall
  • October 8, 1956: Grand opening of the mall, drawing in 75,000 on opening day
  • November 27, 1956: Frank Loyd Wright visits Southdale and is disgusted by its concept and design
  • 1964: The Southdale Sidewalk Café opens
  • 1972: The first addition to the mall, JCPenny becomes one of the anchor stores
  • 1976: The Galleria Edina (mall) opens across the street, soon becomes a major competitor of Southdale
  • 1991: The Garden Court is expanded, parking lots are turned into parking structures
  • 1997: Southdale is sold to O’Connor Group
  • Early 2000’s: More rennovations, AMC movie theater is opened in the mall
  • 2017: JCPenny leaves and LifeTime Fitness takes over as the tenant
This is the work of Kilian Wilson


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