Gruen's Plan for a Revitalized Commercial Center
Second North Queen Corporation employed Victor Gruen and Associates, in collaboration with Buchart Engineers, for the redevelopment of the commercial center. Gruen, a pioneer in the design of shopping malls, explained the principles of design he applied to Lancaster Square in his book, The Heart of Our Cities (1964). "What is novel, is revolutionary, is the manner in which the store buildings are placed. Instead of being arranged conventionally, directly bordering the surrounding highways, they are located in the space theoretically least visible from the public roads and least directly accessible to automobiles: in the center of the site. There the buildings form a cluster of great compactness, with the spaces between them reserved for pedestrian use only and equipped with such amenities and improvements as landscaping, rest benches, fountains, and even, in some cases, works of creative arts."
Gruen conceived of a new downtown commercial center comparable to the "ancient Greek Agora" and the "medieval Market place." Gruen explained that in addition to its retail functions, Lancaster Square would also serve as a new neighborhood center. The plan, he wrote, would provide "landscaped seating areas, fountains, reflecting pools, sculpture, kiosks, an ice-skating rink, and exciting urban graphics, all of which are bathed with dramatic lighting for the evening hours, thereby providing for all the human amenities for the revitalization of the heart of the city." Photographs of the Gruen-Buchart model, a sketch of the intended effect, and two artist's sketches of Lancaster Square as completed. Courtesy, Buchart-Horn, Inc./BASCO Associates, Ltd., Lancaster and York, Pa., and Bureau of Planning, City of Lancaster.