Victor Gruen, the center's architect, designed the mall to challenge the "car-centric" America that was rising in the 1950s. Since its opening in 1956, Southdale has suffered through high vacancy rates and several store closures, but has been able to recover in recent years. Several additions have been performed on the building, including a 2011 renovation which involved the construction of a brand new food court. Southdale Center continues to use much of its original structure despite these renovations, and has been the host of several charity and community events throughout the years.
Southdale Center was developed by the Dayton Company and designed by Victor Gruen, an Austrian immigrant and socialist. Gruen was a European-style socialist; he found individual stores in downtown venues to be inefficient, and the suburban lifestyle of 1950s America too "car-centric" and wanted to design a building that would be a communal gathering place, where people would shop, drink coffee, and socialize, as he remembered from his native Vienna.
Southdale Center was loosely modeled on the arcades of several heavily populated European cities and purposely included "eye-level display cases" to "lure customers into stores". Gruen imaged that Southdale would eventually include "a medical center, schools and residences, not just a parade of glitzy stores." The first plans unveiled for the shopping center were announced in 1952 by Gruen and Minnesota native, Donald Dayton.
According to wikipedia