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Sesame Place, Oxford Valley Mall

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1977–1981, Cope, Linder, Walmsley Associates. N. Buckstown Rd., off Oxford Valley Rd., Langhorne, 4 miles northwest of Levittown

At the end of the nineteenth century, Horace Trumbauer designed the Willow Grove Amusement Park (now the site of Abington's Willow Grove Mall) as the terminus of the Philadelphia street railroad system, a ploy to boost ridership on weekends. The twentieth-century developers of the Oxford Valley Mall used a similar strategy to bring Sesame Place to their shopping center. Sesame Place is by a firm long known for its commercial work in the Philadelphia region. Here they partnered with the Children's Television Workshop, creators of the Muppets and Sesame Street, and play consultant Eric McMillan to shape an amusement park that connects the forces of contemporary life as represented by high architecture, a kind of Pompidou Center for kids, modern media, and family play in a retail center. Differing from Venturi and Rauch's stand-alone warehouse store (demolished; see BU8), this followed the interconnected norms of a shopping center to provide a variety of experiences in a bounded environment. At its center are the photo-op stairs leading up to the brilliantly yellow Big Bird. Bright colors enliven economical metal-skinned buildings and Tinkertoy frames mix themes of child's play with modern construction.

Writing Credits

Author: 
George E. Thomas
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Citation

George E. Thomas, "Sesame Place, Oxford Valley Mall", [Langhorne, Pennsylvania], SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012—, http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/PA-02-BU8.1.

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