Plans for the world's largest green roof

Matt Hickman

Design devotee blogs about cities, innovation and architecture.

Dying Silicon Valley mall to be reborn with world’s largest green roof

The manmade foothills are most definitely alive in Cupertino.

By: Matt Hickman

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There’s ambitious plans underway to transform Cupertino’s aging “ghost mall” into a “vibrant, sustainable, walkable and safe new neighborhood” topped by the world’s largest green roof. (Rendering: The Hills of Vallco)

The humble, downtown-killing suburban shopping mall has had a tough go of it as of late.

Long gone are B. Dalton, Merry-Go-Round, Imaginarium and Camelot Music (tear), replaced with barren parking lots and ghostly corridors. Many of these hulking retail wastelands struggle to support mall-anchoring giants such as Macy’s or JCPenney, let alone Spencer Gifts or Orange Julius.

While numerous (but not as many as you’d think) enclosed shopping centers have been unceremoniously forsaken and left to rot, other dead malls haven’t been allowed to go the full ruin porn route. Instead, they’ve been repurposed and granted the opportunity to live on — as medical complexes, college campuses, zombie hubs and even churches.

Some defunct shopping malls have been treated to even grander transformations, reemerging like a Cinnabon-scented phoenix from the ashes as mixed-use developments complete with housing, commercial space and parkland.

It would appear the one the Silicon Valley’s mightiest fallen retail giants, the Vallco Shopping Mall in Cupertino, will be one such faded retail hub getting a really dramatic overhaul: a $3 billion second chance as a vibrant and presumably Hot Topic-free town center — “the social heart of Cupertino” — helmed by Menlo Park-based Sand Hill Property Company and designed by celebrated (and sometimes not-so-celebrated) Uruguayan architect Rafael Viñoly alongside magnificent and prolific landscape design firm, OLIN. Read more.