2011 Retail Renovation Competition

Award-winning renovations serve up new ideas for making a connection with consumers
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Posted August 25, 2011
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VMSD Retail Renovation Competition Judging Panel

Barb Beeghly vp, planning and merchandising, FRCH Design Worldwide
Shonda McKinney-Short store planning/architecture/construction/
engineering, Macy’s Inc.
Ken Pray director, store design, The Kroger Co.
Joanne Putka-White design director, Fitch
Jan Tribbey vp, store design and construction, Victoria’s Secret
Editor’s note: Judges were not allowed to participate in discussions
or vote on projects from their own firms.

First Place/Retailer of the Year
CONVERSION – SUPERMARKET
Lakeview Grocery, New Orleans
Submitted by: King Retail Solutions, Eugene, Ore.

As if renovation work isn’t challenging enough, imagine your retail space was severely damaged by six feet of water, boarded up and left vacant for more than a year before you decided to give it new life. But like so many other retailers in New Orleans post-Katrina, that was the case for Marc Robért, operator of the Robért Fresh Market chain, as he sought to rebuild the five grocery stores he operated in the area.

In the city’s Lakeview neighborhood, Robért took over a space previously occupied by a competitor and partnered with Eugene, Ore.-based King Retail Solutions (KRS) to gut the 21,000-square-foot space.

Before addressing the design details, the team conducted extensive market research, including focus groups and shop-alongs with consumers, to gather direction on what services and offerings were important in creating a new brand and food experience, called Lakeview Grocery, for the neighborhood.

Among the key findings were a desire for a store with an easy-to-shop layout, simple conveniences and a sense of local pride. “In New Orleans, it’s important to be real and authentic,” says Robért.

So designers created a very linear layout with a simple, clean aesthetic and purposely retro look. “In our research, consumers were waxing nostalgic,” says Chris Studach, creative director, KRS. “They wanted it to feel like a store they could be familiar with.”

So there’s lots of regionally inspired artwork, conversational graphics with a sense of humor and chalkboard signs where employees can make personal recommendations.

The materials palette makes use of affordable building materials to convey value, including polished concrete floors and plywood sheeting stained to a “schoolhouse” yellow reminiscent of old desktops. Black gondolas with roundouts highlight premium products, while general merchandise is displayed on Oyster-white fixtures.

To appeal to the neighborhood’s social nature, designers also added an extensive fresh food section and a café, called Harrison Cove, which has its own separate entrance as well as an additional entrance from the grocery store.

Judges lauded the clean and simple nature of the design that creates an emotional bond with consumers. “So many grocery stores out there default to the farm market approach,” says Jan Tribbey, vp, store design and construction, Victoria’s Secret. “I love this for its freshness, complexity and accessible feel.”

First Place
RENOVATION – SPECIALTY STORE, SALES AREA UNDER 10,000 SQUARE FEET
Christian Dior, New York
Submitted by: Shawmut Design and Construction, New York

The renovation of Christian Dior’s women’s store on 57th Street in New York was three years in the making. First planned as a major renovation, the project was put on hold during the recession, then revived on a smaller scope. But in 2010, as the project started to get underway, Dior introduced its new concept in Shanghai and plans shifted once again to make the New York location bigger and better. “They wanted the Cadillac,” says Greg Skalaski, project executive for Shawmut Design and Construction.

Combining French-inspired details with modern elements, the store features Swarovski crystal lighting, custom millwork, Venetian plaster, limestone flooring and custom art pieces.

One of the biggest challenges was the dramatic staircase, which included cladding the stairs in millwork and stone and installing a wrought iron handrail. As the only access point to the second floor, the work had to be saved to the end to avoid damage to the structure. “We were coordinating the work by the hour,” says Skalaski.

First Place
RENOVATION – DEPARTMENT STORE
Liverpool Polanco Department Store, Mexico City
Submitted by: FRCH Design Wordwide, Cincinnati

Built in the 1970s, the Liverpool Polanco store had undergone only partial renovations, leaving it in need of a complete update in order to align with the retailer’s new brand positioning as a world-class, contemporary flagship.

One of the biggest challenges was the building’s triangular shape with curved sides and square rooms. “It’s such a beautiful building, but you wouldn’t know it when you’re inside because of the way it was built,” says Claudia Cerchiara, vp, FRCH Design Worldwide (Cincinnati).

Rather than fight it or cover it up, designers decided to follow the shape of the building as a guide to a new interior. “That allowed us to reflect the exterior architecture on the inside, but also to avoid having straight aisles from one end to the other, something Liverpool avoids in all its stores.”

First Place
RENOVATION – RESTAURANT/SPECIALTY FOOD SHOP
Starbucks Coffee Co., Olive Way, Seattle
Submitted by: Starbucks Coffee Co., Seattle

For the last three years, Starbucks has been renovating its coffee shop fleet to become better reflections of the neighborhoods where they’re located and better spaces for the planet. In Seattle’s eclectic Capitol Hill neighborhood, designers had the additional challenge of working with a 1920s house that had been converted to a commercial space and then added onto through the years.

“Instead of trying to re-create the architecture, we played with the building,” says Lionel Sussman, Starbucks’ design director, Global Concept Design.

That meant stripping the space down to the concrete flooring and wall beams and then using complementary paints and stains to create a more cohesive look. Outside, the store entrance was centered to the front of the façade and a 750-square-foot patio was added. New sustainable design elements include energy-efficient lighting, FSC-certified woods and steel with recyclable content.

The renovation also provided the opportunity to test a new centralized bar area with beer and wine offerings. “Our goal was to create coffee theater,” says Sussman.

First Place
CONVERSION - DISCOUNT/MASS MERCHANT
E-Mart, Seoul, South Korea
Submitted by: WD Partners, Columbus, Ohio

E-Mart Co. Ltd., Korea’s largest discount retailer, had a building and an idea. The building was a two-story, former Walmart store in Seoul. The idea was to develop three specialty retail formats, new to the Korean market, all under one roof.

Brainstorming with American consultancies Prophet (New York) and WD Partners (Columbus, Ohio), E-Mart converted its building into an E-Mart Traders, a warehouse price club without membership requirements; Molly’s, a pet supply and accessories store; and Matrix, a sleek, upscale consumer electronics store.
In addition to creating these concepts, the designers were on a super fast track. “We had 100 days to get the building gutted and the three new prototypes developed, built and opened,” says Peter Dixon, Prophet principal.

“I was amazed at the speed with which E-Mart worked,” says Allison Westrick, WD’s executive director of design and brand. “And they say Americans want instant gratification!” —Steve Kaufman

Honorable Mention
RENOVATION – SPECIALTY STORE, SALES AREA UNDER 10,000 SQUARE FEET
Chanel, New York
Submitted by: Shawmut Design and Construction, New York

Honorable Mention
RENOVATION – RESTAURANT/SPECIALTY FOOD SHOP
The Colorado Sports Bar, Denver Intl. Airport, Denver
Submitted by: Derek Rubinoff, Roslindale, Mass.

Honorable Mention
RENOVATION – SHOPPING CENTER/MALL
Akmerkez Shopping Center, Istanbul, Turkey
Submitted by: Concept Intl. Design Ltd., Bangkok, Thailand

Honorable Mention
CONVERSION – SPECIALTY STORE, SALES AREA OVER 10,000 SQUARE FEET
Elliott Bay Book Co., Seattle
Submitted by: 5ive Creative, Seattle

Honorable Mention
CONVERSION – SPECIALTY STORE, SALES AREA UNDER 10,000 SQUARE FEET
Hugo Boss at the Venetian Resort Hotel Casino, Las Vegas
Submitted by: Fisher Development Inc., San Francisco