For all our travels there are still places I hesitate to go. Shopping malls, with their dreadful combination of crowds and consumerism, generally top that list. Westfield Horton Plaza in San Diego is an exception.
Covering six and one half blocks and seven stories of the city’s historic Gas Lamp District, Horton is remarkable for its complete lack of in-your face store fronts. We toured a large section of the complex and still can’t tell you what shops are there; our attention instead riveted to the twisting and elaborately colored architecture of the place.
Said to be influenced by southern Mediterranean market places, we found Horton to be more akin to an open air funhouse with its odd angles and 50-odd hues of paint. But the design is not all whimsy. Local elements are also incorporated into the Alice in Wonderland structure to help integrate it with its historic surroundings. And yet there is a playful aspect here too. Knowledgeable visitors can try to identify such “Easter Eggs” as replica ornate gas lamps patterned after those that give this section of San Diego its name or identify the city’s original Jessop’s Clock; a century old historic landmark that now ticks off time at the center of this remarkable shopping plaza.