My friend Erik points out the latest ugly incident at San Francisco's Sony Metreon. In a way, this makes me sad.
As Eric points out, the urban mall was indeed lauded at the time it opened for being high-concept, high-rent and family friendly. They used to have cool exhibits (a Maurice Sendak "Where the Wild Things Are" one that literally spilled out all over the second-floor, and a cool "How Things Work" one as well. I never saw that one.)
The second-floor arcade was designed by Moebius, fer chrissakes. Add in retail stores from Microsoft (this was shortly after the first few Apple Stores had opened, and I think M$ was maybe under the delusion that they could buy a couple-thousand square feet of cool, too) and Sony. On paper, it was truly a great mall. (Yes, just a mall, still — the emphasis was undeniably on retail and consumption.) But it was evident, even early on, that something was… off about the place.
The arcade games (which were custom-built games, from what I could tell) were kinda… lame. Yeah, there was that one where you bowled an enormous bowling ball from the top of Pacific Heights and down into the streets of San Francisco. But that was fun for, oh, about 6 minutes.
And it was obvious that the only real reason most folks came down to the Metreon was for the movie theaters. Those were at capacity for just about every show. (My wife and I adopted a strategy—we used to go down there on Saturday mornings around 10am for new releases. Just about the only time of the weekend when you'd have at least a little seat selection.)
And, of course, being an urban mall, the movie theaters overwhelmingly attracted one demographic: smelly, noisy and sometimes-violent teenagers. It wasn't uncommon to see fights down there.
The Microsoft store sank within 6 months, and was replaced by some off-brand 'technology store' (selling most of the same high-tech crap, but w/no MS endorsement or merch.)
To be honest, I'm surprised to hear that the Metreon is still open at all. It's been ~6 years since we moved away, and it was already on a visible down-hill slide by the time we left.