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Wednesday

If you count spending a rainless, 72-degree day inside Tysons Corner Center among the few moments when you felt truly alive, Los Angeles-based architect Jon Jerde is your man. Since establishing the Jerde Partnership back in 1977, the architect has been building shopping and entertainment centers where, he says, people “can be most truly happy and alive.” Back when Jerde graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Architecture in 1964, the basic mall recipe—two department stores anchoring a hundred-odd smaller stores surrounding a grand atrium where plants grow in climate-controlled bliss—was being cooked up from Portland to Pittsburgh. But Jerde wasn’t a fan of that formula: When he finally got down to designing his own malls, his creations were a blend of architectural references that roared with color and surface pattern—we’re talking ochre, mauve, and peach. Not surprisingly, Minnesota’s Mall of America, the grand dame of retail experiences, is Jerde’s baby. Even if you don’t feel “truly happy and alive” when you visit this 4.2-million-square-foot retail emporium outside Minneapolis, you’ll have plenty to take your mind off your existential crisis: There are Knott’s Berry Farm’s Camp Snoopy (the largest indoor theme park in America), an aquarium, golfing, movies, and chain stores by the hundreds. To complete the life cycle, there are even a high school and a wedding chapel in this retail version of the Biosphere Project—a world within a world hermetically sealed for our protection. At 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 1, at the National Building Museum, 401 F St. NW. $16. (202) 272-2448. (Jessica Dawson)