Kuala Lumpur Mega Malls



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    Mid Valley Mega Mall

    By tonystefan
    Dec 16, '12 10:42 PM EST

    I always have to work to get my images, but sometimes I have to push boundaries--those of propriety and of private property. Here is a brief story about how I didn't get my photo of Mid Valley Mega Mall.

    My goal in each of these posts is to produce a photo that captures these mega malls in a single frame. This creates two challenges: locating a good vantage point and gaining access to that vantage point. For each subject, I have to do a fair amount of walking and exploring in order to determine that vantage point. In almost every case I am looking for a tall building, set a proper distance away, with an intervening space that allows a clear view. In one case (, there was a public housing project with an accessible stairwell that allowed me to get my photo. In another (, I had to let myself into the stairwell of a health clinic, to access an employees break room with an exterior window. In the case of Mid Valley Mega Mall, the only viable options were two gated condominiums.

    Slogging through a hot, humid morning, after having no satisfaction exploring the unlighted stairwell of an empty office building, i walked through the pedestrian gate of the first condominium. I didn't have my pitch worked out, but put on a friendly face and tried my best. He was an accommodating man, time-wise, however responded negatively to my requests to access the common area balconies clearly visible above, my assurances that it would only be Three Minutes No Problem, and even a timid remunerative offer. I can't remember if I said Please, but he sent me on my way to try other buildings. I walked out, ambled up the incline of the access road, and back to his window for another round of entreaties and rejection.

    It's never a straight journey in KL, and sometimes to go east, the only route is a circuitous west. So I eventually sweated my way to the second condo building. This one had a roof terrace, with a clearly visible clubhouse perched on top. Located approximately front and center of Mid Valley, across the freeway, it was the perfect location. I eventually made it to the guard house, with a better pitch worked out.

    Me (smiling): Hello, my name is Tony Stefan, and I am a tourist from the USA. I am also an architect, and have been going around KL taking photos of the malls here. Is there any possible way I can get up on the roof to take a photo of Mid Valley?

    Guard (pointing his finger skyward): You want to go atas to take photo?

    : Yes please

    : OK. Go inside and talk with Sarah. She is building manager. Walk around the building, you will see her office beside the parking.

    : Terimah kaseh! Thank you!

    Another young guard wearing a uniform and carrying a handset greets me on the way to the office, and takes me in to meet Sarah.

    Me (deferential): Hello Miss Sarah, my name is Tony Stefan...

    Miss Sarah (composed, if put out): ...please, sit down

    : Yes, thank you, as I was saying (I repeated my earlier introduction)

    (nodding, comforted): OK. Can. Before I accommodate you, I will need to take down your particulars

    : You need ID, or...?

    : Yes, your information, passport...

    : Sorry, don't have

    : Oh. That's a problem. If the police stop you...

    : Well, how about I bring them tomorrow?

    : Can

    : Oh wonderful! Is there a convenient time for you?

    : At your convenience. What time is convenient for you?

    (joking): Any time it's not raining! How about if I call ahead? Do you have a business card with your phone number...?

    Sarah has her assistant produce a piece of paper with stamped contact information inked on the surface.

    : Thank you Miss Sarah! I will see you tomorrow!

    So it goes: sometimes an accommodating Yes on Wednesday becomes a non-negotiable No on Thursday. My poor wife had to live with my dejection for much of Thursday afternoon.

    So I have to resort to web links and feeble documentation to describe Mid Valley Mega Mall. The best online photo I've found is at the Cititel website ( This Google Map also shows just how large and ex-urban the project is ( The Wikipedia entry describes some of the programmatic features: mall, hotel, convention center and office space (

    I have included one photo that I took of the building diagram that is provided for mall users. The main hallway shown in the diagram, excluding the retail spaces on each end, is over 900 feet long. There is one full floor of retail, and two floors of parking below grade.

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photographic documentation of urban mega-hybrids in a contemporary asian capital

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