Harris Teeter Inc. (Charlotte, N.C.) is known for the tailor-made grocery styles of its individual locations, each tweaked with a specific community in mind. When the company discovered a 58,000-square-foot grocery space at the Stonecrest Shopping Center in its own hometown of Charlotte, N.C., it seized upon the opportunity to build a unique flagship grocery store.
The company retained Little & Associates Architects (Charlotte) to provide a neo-classical look to the space just in time for the 2001 holiday shopping frenzy. "Flagships are usually reserved for new market entries," explains Daniel Montano, project designer at Little & Associates. "But this store is in a favorable demographic area. With its large size, it ended up being a perfect candidate for a signature store."
In order to meet the Oct. 30, 2001, opening date, designers had only four months to plan and orchestrate the look. "We took the Romanesque inspiration from an existing Harris Teeter store and played it up in the flagship," says Montano. "To save time, we kept the previous tenant's underground utilities and layout. But we also had to make sure shoppers would distinguish the new Harris Teeter from the old grocery."
New, classical-looking white columns make stately appearances throughout the space, such as in the façades of the wine and floral sections. A matching white trellis theme is placed over customer service areas and departments of the store. Permanent cooler boxes, oddly placed left-and-center on the floor, were also dressed with the trellis system, creating arches that bridge the various refrigerators. "These coolers were an obstacle in the layout for us," says Montano. "They were eyesores before we tied them together visually."
The dominant font of the signage is Times New Roman, and star images on the floor, resembling old-fashioned map graphics, mark key entry and exit points. Stainless-steel and copper elements, as well as the exposed ceiling, provide an industrial touch. MR-16 lighting above the aisles gives the merchandise sparkle, while the predominately green and white fixturing and flooring add to the clean aesthetic.
The neon signage prevalent in other Harris Teeter stores is downplayed in the Charlotte flagship, used in only a few elements, such as a glowing blue and white snowflake graphic in the frozen foods section. The flooring is decorated in pale vinyl tile, whose patterns vary by section.
The upscale neighborhood lacks a sufficient winery, so Harris Teeter is attempting to fill that void. "Harris Teeter wine sections usually use the standard gondola system," says Ron Kirkpatrick, project manager. "But here we went with some higher-end, climate-controlled wood cases. A wide steward station centrally located in the department acts almost like a bar, where people can come up and ask questions. The whole area, which has the potential to host wine tastings, is designed for people to linger."
Also designed to appeal to the sophisticated clientele is a Tinderbox cigar store, complete with humidor, existing as a subtenant across from the winery.
"Elements of this style will be retrofitted in some other stores," says Rajeev Bhave, senior project manager. "But the classical look was an especially good fit for this demographic."
Client Team: Harris Teeter Inc., Charlotte, N.C. - Al Lentz, vp, construction; Dale Gallimore, Mark Fenton, design coordinators
Design Team: Little & Associates Architects, Charlotte, N.C. - Tim Morrison, studio principal; Rajeev Bhave, senior project manager; Daniel Montano, project designer; Ron Kirkpatrick, project manager
Outside Design Consultant: Clive Samuels & Associates, Princeton, N.J.
Suppliers: Re: Source, Charlotte, N.C. (flooring); Plastex Fabricators, Charlotte, N.C. (graphics, signage, props, decoratives); Nstall, Charlotte, N.C. (props, decoratives)