Detroit is now home to the newest Under Armour Brand House. The multistory sports-apparel showroom and store is housed in the historic 1917 Kresge Building in downtown Detroit. Local Kraemer Design Group (KDG) worked as historic consultant and architect of record on the project, and Sachse Construction was general contractor. Working with Bedrock, the building owner, KDG worked to maintain protected historic features throughout the project including the original marble walls and the brass handrails in a monumental staircase. At the same time, the space was altered to fit Under Armour’s brand. Since much of the space is on a mezzanine level, a new elevator was added, but otherwise the existing conditions in the one-hundred-year-old building were left undisturbed. The 17,000-square-foot store is just the latest of in a series of recently opening and planned flagship retail stores in Downtown Detroit, including a large Nike store and a future Warby Parker.Under Armour Brand House 1201 Woodward Avenue, Detroit Tel: 313-335-3162 Architect: Kraemer Design Group
Posts tagged with "Retail":
SITU Studio crafts a uniquely flexible display system for a New York City vinyl record and audiophile store
Despite the recent resurgence in vinyl record sales, brick-and-mortar music retail remains a challenging business. New York City’s Turntable Lab—which sells vinyl, high-end audiophile equipment, and merchandise, catering to professional DJs and casual listeners alike—had successfully graduated from its small starting location near the Cooper Union to a larger, 1,200-square-foot space nearby. But Turntable’s owners knew their store needed to be nimble to survive. “Products always change…how you display things, where you might need to move things around. Maximum flexibility was what we were shooting for,” said Turntable Lab partner David Azzoni. The new store required that adaptability, but the owners didn’t want to lose the gritty basement feel of the old location.
They turned to Brooklyn-based interdisciplinary firm SITU Studio; the two teams had already collaborated to design a no-frills, flat-pack turntable stand that was successfully Kickstarted. Aleksey Lukyanov-Cherny, partner at SITU Studio, said the firm looked to DIY sources for inspiration for the store. “The brilliant detail: It’s a cleat. It’s actually something very straightforward, something your DIY handyman at home will build in his garage for tools,” he explained. The cleats run throughout the space, supporting around 10 different sets of brackets, hooks, and rails, all of which hold stands, shelves, and display inserts.
This system allows for extreme flexibility, but SITU Studio had to work hard to refine the cleat, ensuring that the racks would be secure without requiring tools or extensive force to change them around. Turntable Lab also visited SITU Studio’s workshop throughout the design process, bringing samples of products, to measure what dimensions and displays worked best. “We spent a lot of time just drawing and cutting these things out, playing with just the round-overs, the radiuses…there was a lot of massaging radiuses,” Lukyanov-Cherny recalled. One major decision was to cut out the center of the display brackets, thereby keeping the cases visually open. “It just flows,” said Azzoni.
SITU Studio selected clear finished and untreated Baltic birch plywood for the entire system, with high-pressure laminate for its heavily used surfaces. The plywood—CNC-milled into shape—retains the old shop’s raw, utilitarian feel but balances it with clean lines. And Turntable Lab’s owners couldn’t be happier with the result. Armed with a basic set of display units, they can easily swap out products and how they’re displayed. In the back of the store, each vinyl storage/display unit rolls on wheels and can be moved to make space for events.
Parked among the vinyl records and T-shirts is the old store’s timeworn turntable stand, still used by DJs for in-store concerts. Its plywood has weathered darkly with use, and it sharply contrasts with the fresh plywood around it. But it won’t be the only aged one for long.
“These things can take a beating; you don’t want to refine things that people will be touching. You want to think about materiality and how it ages over time,” Lukyanov-Cherny said. “Eventually,” he added, gesturing from the new plywood displays to the old turntable stand, “they’re all gonna look like this!”
Los Angeles– and Portland, Oregon–based architecture firm West of West recently completed work on a 400-square-foot pop-up shop for optical and sunglass retailer Garrett Leight California Optical (GLCO).
The store is located behind Alfred Coffee & Kitchen in the Melrose Place shopping center in West Hollywood, California. The pop-up shop includes birch-wood-clad interior partitions as well as typographic murals by design studio Cool August Moon. Designs also include a specialized display wall made up of white wooden pegs that support shelves and handheld mirrors.
One of the typographic walls is framed by a built-in bench made out of black-painted birch with a pair of tropical indoor potted plants. The bench sits adjacent to a secondary storefront entrance—the primary access point is through the coffee shop. That entrance is highlighted by a sheet of safety glass and is decorated with GLCO’s orange logo. That logo appears again inside the store, cut out of the birch accent wall behind the sales desk. An experimental magazine shelf made up of wooden dowels is located opposite the glasses wall; a lens-tinting machine and a marble-clad point-of-sale kiosk fill out the remainder of the space with raw concrete floors throughout. West of West explained in a statement: “The project was fascinating to us because of its hidden location—the experience of discovering an unexpected space is in contrast to the majority of the work we do.”
The store is open through the end of June.
GLCO at Alfred Melrose Place 8428 Melrose Place, Los Angeles Tel: 917-262-0955 Architect: West of West
Created by up-and-coming architects and designers, the distinct aesthetics of Aesop’s stores have become integral to the Australian skincare brand’s identity. Working with local craftspeople, Aesop integrates each location to its surroundings—no easy feat. The Architect's Newspaper (AN) editor Matthew Messner spoke with Marsha Meredith, creative director of Melbourne-based Aesop, who explained the ideas and process behind picking new store locations and designers, and discussed the company’s commitment to working with the community.
The Architect’s Newspaper: Could you discuss the process of finding and choosing designers for each store? What do you look for?
Marsha Meredith: We select architects not only for the excellence of their work but also their personality; their capacity to communicate and connect with us is integral to the realization of new spaces. We enjoy working with established architects and rising talents. We first worked with Frida Escobedo in 2013 for a temporary space we opened in Brooklyn, nestled in the Invisible Dog, a local art center. We had come across Frida’s work and reached out precisely because her experience lay in a more conceptual space, away from traditional retail architecture. The design she presented for Invisible Dog connected with the artistic soul of the space while preserving its humble character.
The locations of new Aesop stores also seem to be an important decision. What are some of the factors in choosing a location?
There’s no formula. Intuition plays a big role in choosing the right location, and so do serendipitous recommendations from partners—be it from architects, retailers, or restaurants. In Miami, for example, the Design District might have been a natural choice for a premium retail company, but we felt more at ease in Wynwood. It might have been the murals, the coffee at Panther, or O, Miami, the poetry festival organized by the University of Wynwood collective. We drew inspiration from the local streetscape—its buildings, its history, its people.
How do new Aesop stores tap into local crafts, trades, materials, and history?
As a company, our first consideration is always to work with what is already in place and tread lightly with respect to the past. We then allow the architects to create their original concept. Frida’s inspiration is particularly rich and fertile. In Tampa, her design engaged with the neoclassical style of the restaurant and lifestyle store Oxford Exchange, but adding a terra-cotta sink crafted by Florida-based ceramic artist John Byrd was a subtle yet distinct nod to the area’s Cuban and Spanish influences. In Coconut Grove, Frida understood the store was located in a bustling shopping space. Her concept was an interesting response to this particular setting: Drawing on the hammock as a tropical motif for repose, the relaxed design diffused an alluring calmness, letting our store become a refuge where one can rest and decompress.
What do you believe is the value added by enlisting critical designers for each store, as opposed to reproducing similar stores in each location?
Enlisting designers who are able to capture a neighborhood is the least we can do. As a retailer with a global presence, we have a responsibility to add value to the neighborhoods in which we open. We seek to weave ourselves into the fabric of the street rather than creating a discordant presence. Collaborations also nurture our own creative soul: We enjoy the original interpretations of Aesop that come through in each unique design.
Like an architect, fashion designer Thakoon Panichgul carefully balances contemporary and historical influences. His eponymous brand has won him fans from Michelle Obama to Target, but when it came time to build a brick-and-mortar store, Panichgul and New York–based SHoP faced a more complex balancing act. They wanted to carefully devise an interior that would reflect its Soho surroundings and the Thakoon aesthetic, all while grabbing the attention of passersby and setting itself apart from competitors.
“Thakoon was really interested in making [the store] of its place, of New York, bringing in the grit of the city,” said Coren Sharples, principal at SHoP. Concrete with dark aggregate covers the floors, and the architects tapped Brooklyn-based Fernando Mastrangelo Studio to cast multiple concrete walls throughout the store. Mastrangelo reproduced the subtle gradients of his furniture on an architectural scale, pouring multiple layers of gray-hued concrete in a single casting. “This was crazy, it was done on site,” said Sharples. “This was formed up and poured. Really a little scary, but [Mastrangelo] was amazing.”
Wood was also an important part of Panichgul’s vision—the designer had prepared a mood board with several wood treatments that figured prominently in other fashion brands’ aesthetics. These ranged from light treatments with vernacular ornamentation (what he called “American Traditional”) to richly grained and darkly stained (“American Glam”). SHoP and Panichgul ultimately chose an unfinished white oak (“American Cool”), a look that left the wood in its raw, natural state. White oak surfaces sinuously undulate along the showroom’s walls even as they retain a dry, coarse texture. The architects and client also worked closely with Brooklyn-based furniture maker Vonnegut/Kraft on the store’s wood furniture: Connection details, leather seating, and each edge and taper went through multiple iterations before landing on a design that features simple woven-leather straps. Vonnegut/Kraft’s pieces stand in the main showroom and hug the curves of each dressing room.
Extra seating is provided by travertine blocks that were CNC-milled in Italy to 3-D models provided by SHoP. Panichgul tapped London-based designer Michael Anastassiades for the principal lighting features: simple orbs with brass detailing. Brass is also used for the store’s clothing rods and the towering sculptural display rack that stands prominently in the main showroom.
Taken all together, the materials find ways to somehow be both angular and curved, smooth and gritty, even as their neutral tones give the clothing center stage. “We wanted it to be infused with material sensibility and warmth, but at the same time, it’s always this line you walk because you don’t want to overpower or dictate,” said Sharples.
This article appears in The Architect’s Newspaper’s April 2017 issue, which takes a deep dive into Florida to coincide with the upcoming AIA Conference on Architecture in Orlando (April 27 to 29). We’re publishing the issue online as the Conference approaches—click here to see the latest articles to be uploaded.
When Victor Gruen designed the first contemporary American malls in the mid-1950s, he changed the changed the way Americans shopped. Much to his chagrin, however, what malls would become over the next 50 years would be far from the civic social suburban spaces that he had envisioned. He would eventually distance himself from the typology.
Today, malls, as a typology, are going through major change. Whether due to a changing economy or a changing customer base, malls—as 1990s mall rats knew them—are disappearing. Instead, new configurations and old ideas are shaping the way people are shopping, and if there is one place to look at this change, it’s Florida.
Florida has weathered the last decade relatively well. Buoyed by its massive tourist industry and the ever-replenished retiring baby boomer population, malls across the state still draw crowds. Even so, these palaces of consumerism are not impervious to the changing tastes of the country. As national retailers such as Macy’s and J.C. Penney fall on hard times, the anchor stores have become literal anchors—dragging.
Although new “traditional” malls are rarely being built, shopping centers are still popping up, or being reformatted. Perhaps ironically, one of the most popular mall replacements are retail streets. Many of these have been commercial centers for decades, but so many of them declined as malls gained in popularity. Across Southern Florida, the towns and suburbs surrounding Miami have rushed to remodel and reinvigorate their “urban” shopping streets.
The next of these to be realized will be Coral Gables’ Miracle Mile. The half-mile main east-west drag through town, Coral Way, has been home to numerous mom-and-pop stores, many of which have struggled to survive. The urban design, by New York firms Cooper Robertson and Local Office Landscape Architecture, aims to replace the narrow sidewalks and copious angled street parking with a more pedestrian-friendly experience. Flexible plazas, outdoor dining spaces, enlarged planted areas, redesigned wayfinding graphics, and an improved lighting scheme will be used on and beyond the Miracle Mile. Stretching off on neighboring side streets and focusing on intersections, the plan will reframe the area as a full retail district. While the model for the project is a European shopping experience, overhead LED lighting and bright street pavers will be decidedly Florida, evoking the shapes and movement of raindrops and water ripples.
The Miracle Mile will be just one of the many revitalized shopping streets in the Miami area. It will join Palm Beach’s Sunset Drive and Worth Avenue, and Lincoln Road Mall in Miami Beach as alternatives to traditional malls. Yet while these more established venues are seeing new life, traditional malls are being completely rethought. New retailers and new customer expectations are being formalized as street-mall hybrids on a scale that has not been seen before.
The Miami Worldcenter will be a 27-acre mixed-use development in downtown Miami. At the heart of the $2 billion project is a “High Street retail promenade and plaza” which will include retail, dining, and entertainment along a pedestrian street. The project is so large—it will also contain 2,000 residential units and 1,700 hotel rooms—that it will connect the Central Business District and the Arts & Entertainment District, changing the way tourists and Miamians move through the downtown.
Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects is leading the master planning as well as designing three of the buildings for the project. The firm’s experience designing the extremely popular Grove and Downtown Disney projects in Southern California make it particularly suited for the project. Even so, the Worldcenter is on a much larger scale and addresses particularities of downtown Miami.
“Miami is evolving from a car-centric city to a pedestrian-oriented city,” Howard Elkus, founding principal of Elkus Manfredi said. “By focusing the energy of our project at the street level, we are able to create more vibrant streets and public spaces. Our dynamic open-space network now includes a system of parks, plazas, and car-free promenades anchored by a major urban plaza that will become the heart of Miami.”
In its original form, the Worldcenter resembled a more traditional mall, a three-level indoor shopping experience with large big-box anchors. Over the course of the design, the nature of retail had changed enough that the anchor-store model was rethought. The project quickly shifted to a more urban plan with separate blocks and pedestrian streets. Luckily for the development, a recent change in Miami’s zoning code made the project possible as an outdoor retail district. In particular, the Miami 21 zoning code, a new form based code that regulates building form standards, public space, and street standards. The code is guided by base tenets of the New Urbanism and Smart Growth movements. Both focus on pedestrian- and community-based design.
As customers demand more engaging shopping experiences with more complex programs, retail developers are not far behind with epic new shopping districts. From rehabilitated retail streets to newly built mixed-use districts, shoppers may soon be more likely to run into dapper flaneurs than escalator-riding mall rats.
Minneapolis-based furniture company Blu Dot has recently opened its first Chicago outpost. The company—founded by two architects and a sculptor—sells clean-lined contemporary domestic furniture online and in nine stores across the U.S., Mexico, and Australia. To match its design sensibilities, Blu Dot tapped Chicago-based John Ronan Architects to overhaul a decidedly mundane strip mall space in the Lincoln Park neighborhood. To differentiate the 7,500-square-foot structure from the row of franchise fast food joints it is connected to, Ronan wrapped the building in a facade of thin vertical aluminum tubes. The effect is a mass separated from its immediate surroundings.
The interior is also set apart from the strip mall aesthetic. A polished clear resin on the concrete floor shows the history of past tenants, while clean white walls and a black-painted exposed utility ceiling let the furniture be the focus of the space. “The challenge was to utterly transform what had been a nondescript diner into something unique and memorable,” John Ronan explained. “And to employ an economy of means doing it. Our strategy was to bleach out the existing structure, create new openings and enlarge existing ones, and layer on a new identity.”
New York–based lifestyle store The Line has opened a seasonal store in Chicago’s Gold Coast neighborhood. Located in the ground-level retail space of the Lucien Lagrange-designed Waldorf Astoria Chicago, The Line will be open through January 31, 2017. Like its permanent New York and Los Angeles stores, the Chicago iteration presents clothing, design items, and beauty products in a home-like space. As such, clothing is displayed in a bedroom setting, beauty products in a vanity, and general home goods in a living room space. The carefully displayed objects in the store come together as an ideal home. Along with the merchandise, the store also provides complimentary services, including interior design consulting. A series of special events will also be held throughout the holidays.
The Line – Chicago Waldorf Astoria Chicago 11 East Walton Street, Chicago Tel: 917-460-7195 Architect: The Line
Los Angeles–based Bureau Spectacular recently debuted a 2,000-square-foot flagship store for Frankie, a high-end fashion house. The shop, located in L.A.’s Arts District, is a spare box with polished floors and exposed brick walls framing what the firm calls a “super furniture” piece. The exterior is covered in black and white graphics that riff on the early 20th-century structure’s industrial detailing, with framed, jack-arched windows and various downspouts and roll-up doors along the facade painted with diagonal black bands—streaks of extreme shadow.
Inside, Bureau Spectacular designed an assembly of functional volumes that can be brought together into one 28-by-10-foot staircase. The firm’s founder Jimenez Lai considers the staircase to be the latest in the firm’s “super furniture” line of works, with the constituent components of the sculptural stair containing clothing racks, dressing rooms, storage bins, and display shelves. Lai described the work as an exploration of composition and part-to-whole relationships, with the interplay between those two aspects of the design being rather literal.
Inhabiting a street-front space in the Mario Botta–designed portion of the newly reopened SFMOMA, In Situ stands at the intersection of art, design, food, and community. In support of chef Corey Lee’s vision, the design celebrates visibility, accessibility, comfort, and openness by foregrounding the guest’s physical experience. Emphasizing tactility and acoustics, the space juxtaposes the rough with the refined, leaving the interior shell of the building relatively raw and exposed while contrasting it with custom lighting, furniture, commissioned art, and a sculptural wood ceiling.
Branding, Graphics & Environmental Graphics a l m projectLighting Consultant JS Nolan & Associates Lighting Design General Contractor Plant Construction Wood Supplier and Custom Lounge Table Fabricator Arborica Custom Pendant Lighting Boyd Lighting
Honorable Mention, Interior > Retail/Hospitality: Voyager Espresso
Architect: Only If— Location: New York, NY
Located in Manhattan’s Fulton Street subway station, Voyager Espresso eschews the typical artisanal aesthetic of contemporary coffee culture for a more futuristic design and material palette, reflecting the client’s scientific approach to coffee.
Honorable Mention, Interior > Retail/Hospitality: TurnStyle
Architect: Architecture Outfit Location: New York, NY
In transforming a neglected block-long passageway within the New York City subway system into a vibrant public space for shopping, eating, and gathering, TurnStyle serves as an inspired model for future transit retail in the city.