“Since 1945, especially with the growth of multinational corporations, the commodification of landscape has become commonplace. Corporations, banks and contracting firms are the primary players because they can mobilize enormous financial and material resources to develop suburban tracts or to redevelop city blocks. These institutions construct theme parks like Canada’s Wonderland or Florida’s Disneyworld with their fake mountains and real security forces; they build huge shopping malls, such as Alberta’s West Edmonton Mall, which includes theme parks, skate rinks and wave pools; they develop entire corporate towns, such as Columbia, Maryland.
Much of this building is done in concert with municipal departments, which have also greatly expanded their powers since World War II. The central aim, apparently, is to create rational and efficient developments by controlling change and eliminating chance. Batteries of standardized regulations and models of development are applied to almost every aspect of the built environment so that unpredicted events either will not occur or will be of no consequence. The result is a sort of planning-by-numbers that appears in uniform street standards that are in no way adapted to existing settlements, in the segregation of land uses, and in the trim neatness of suburbs where almost everything- grades, setbacks, building materials, illumination levels, curb shapes, road width- is governed by some regulation, by-law, property standard, or building code.
In a somewhat different way, corporations try to eliminate uncertainty by using whatever marketing strategies prove to be effective, but it is always the corporation and its profitability to which everything else is subsumed. In these strategies, national identities, let alone local histories and geographies, are reduced to little more than a street name here or there, or perhaps some token like the miniature maple leaf that McDonald’s graciously puts on the golden arches at its Canadian outlets. The intrinsic qualities of places serve merely to make money, either by packaging them as a tourist attraction, or by detaching built-forms from all other place aspects and shipping them elsewhere to use as a background for selling something. (Edward Relph from “Dwelling, Seeing, and Designing”)”