Home Economist Market

2005 VM+SD Retail Renovation Competition Winner
Posted August 15, 2005

First Place
Supermarket or Service Retailer

Charlotte, NC

For Home Economist Market's third location, the organic food retailer selected a site that was previously home to a grocery store in the 1950s and, more recently, a used furniture store.

Home Economist had provided the Charlotte, N.C., area with fresh and natural foods for more than 25 years, but felt it needed a new concept store in order to keep up with the rising popularity of organic food stores. It also wanted to look upscale without giving the appearance of being expensive. Its other two existing locations were very basic, with inconsistent design configurations, crowded displays and restricted shopping quarters. So the retailer selected a site situated in a highly desirable area slated for a strong urban renewal effort.

Designers from Little Diversified Architectural Consulting (Charlotte, N.C.) took care to adapt the period building to accommodate a modern 18,000-square-foot grocery store and still retain many original structural elements of the space. The retailer wanted an organic environment to prevail, which meant minimizing the amount of unnatural elements. Therefore, wood floors, tile patterns and copper signage were used to add light and warmth to the atmosphere.

Another big challenge was restoring and repairing the store's existing roof system, which was covered in layers of tar and roofing membranes, to reveal the existing wood planks. The store's 10-foot lay-in ceiling had to be removed to expose the structure's original vaulted wood and steel truss system, further adding to the desired atmosphere and creating energy savings. In certain areas of the store, a new suspended wood ceiling was added to hide imperfections of the original framings and house an HVAC system and specialty lighting package.

"Designers beautifully integrated the new and the old," said one of the judges. "The end result is striking, considering what they started with," added another.

In addition to the renovation, the collaboration between Home Economist Market and Little Diversified resulted in new design standards, a fresh identity, fixture plan, signage and decor systems that will be used as a template for future stores.

The store's 10-foot lay-in ceiling was removed to expose the structure's
original vaulted wood and steel truss system, adding to the natural
environment feel and creating energy savings.

Client: Home Economist Market, Charlotte, N.C.
Tom Zerbinos, president of retail operations
Dick Harrell

Design/Architect: Little Diversified Architectural Consulting, Charlotte, N.C.
Tim Morrison, principal-in-charge
Daniel Montano, design director
Mohammad Ismail, project manager
Paige Brice, interior designer
Phillip Petty, environmental graphics designer
John Ellis, job captain

General Contractor: Heard Ratzlaff Construction, Charlotte, N.C.

Outside Design Consultants: Bliss Fasman Inc., New York (lighting)
Bowers Consulting, Philadelphia (mechanical engineering)
WGPM Inc., Fort Mill, S.C. (structural engineering)
Sturgill Engineering , Lexington, N.C. (electrical engineering)
C.E. Holt Equipment Co., Charlotte, N.C. (refrigeration)

Scotch Print: Visual Impressions, Charlotte, N.C.

Equipment and Refrigeration: C.E. Holt Inc., Charlotte, N.C.

Flooring: Amtico Intl., Atlanta

Decor and Environmental Signage: Plastex Fabrication, Charlotte, N.C.

Lighting: Maddux Lighting, Greensboro, N.C.

Exterior Sign: Casco, Kannapolis, N.C.

Photography: Jeffrey Clare, Charlotte, N.C.