I.M. Pei and Roosevelt Field Shopping Mall: Collaborative Total Architecture for William Zeckendorf, Sr.

Knoll New York Showroom

1330 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY
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As part of Docomomo US Tour Day 2022 with its thematic focus on Modern shopping malls, the New York Tri-State chapter is presenting an in-person talk by Caroline Zaleski on Long Island’s Roosevelt Field Shopping Mall. Although now greatly altered, in its original form Roosevelt Field was the second largest mall in the country and the most distinguished in the region. Zaleski, the leading authority on the Modern architecture of Long Island, will delve into its fascinating and little known history.

Roosevelt Field Shopping Mall opened to great fanfare in the middle of Long Island in 1956. It was soon widely recognized for its innovative approach to parking, retail architecture, landscape design and particularly, its integration of imaginative, bold graphics across the project. William Zeckendorf, Sr., perhaps the most ambitious American real estate developer of the postwar era, hired the young architect I.M. Pei to be in charge of all aspects of the project’s design. Zeckendorf had complete trust in Pei giving him carte blanche to hire teams of architects, planners and graphic designers.

Today, few people know that Roosevelt Field was designed by Pei, who went on to design celebrated museums and high-rise complexes. The large, early career project allowed Pei to develop concepts and architectural language often seen in his later famous works. Integrated into the classic steel-frame buildings were supergraphics designed by recent graduates from the Yale School of Design. Corporate identity was everywhere, with a whimsical hot air balloon motif logo tying Roosevelt Field’s aviation past to its future as the region’s signature—and decisively Modern—mall. Pei worked closely with Robert Zion on the landscape features. Like Pei, the mall was Zion’s first major project, where he too honed ideas that would serve him throughout his career, including the much celebrated Paley Park.

Caroline Zaleski is a preservation activist and writer. She is the author of the critically acclaimed illustrated book, Long Island Modernism 1930-1980 (2012). In 2000, she received her MS in architectural preservation from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. She has been a leading advocate for the preservation of important modern architecture in New York City and on Long Island. She chairs the Preservation League of New York State Seven to Save Endangered Sites program and sits on the board of Preservation Long Island. Zaleski is a former Director of Advocacy and board member of Docomomo US/New York Tri-State.


Limited capacity, advance registration required
$10 Docomomo US members/$20 general admission 

Enter through building lobby
Program begins at 6:30, reception to follow

Docomomo US/New York Tri-State wishes to thank MillerKnoll for hosting this event.

This event is part of Docomomo US Tour Day 2022.

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