Specialty malls developed as a deliberate revitalization tactic that placed specific retail sectors within and around historic structures to be destinations in and of themselves. The structures were ‘recycled’ rather than restored or preserved, a distinction Lawrence Halprin coined while redesigning Ghirardelli Square. Intentional modifications to the historic layout supported the new program.
The destination mall concept grew from the specialty malls. Using new construction, often within historic contexts, these malls typically include movie theaters, food courts, rest areas, spas, sports complexes, and even hotels. The design strategy and tenant mix of these malls move the foundational concept from purely retail to more broadly commercial. (See also Pedestrian Mall and Waterfront.)