Nine Showstopping Retail Renovations

This year's first place and honorable mention award winners from the VMSD Retail Renovation Competition.
Posted October 1, 2012
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These nine projects wowed judges during the 2012 VMSD Retail Renovation Competition.  Feast your eyes and enjoy!  You can also check out the 2012 retail renovation of the year, Lotte, Guri, South Korea, or read the original article, "A Department for Everything."

1) FAO Schweetz Candy Department, New York

Renovation – Specialty Store, Sales Area under 10,000 square feet
Submitted by: Toys “R” Us, New York

When Toys “R” Us (Wayne, N.J.) wanted to double the square footage of FAO Schwarz’ Fifth Avenue candy department, FAO Schweetz, visibility from the well-trafficked street – especially at night – was a top priority.

“We focused on a strong color palette rather than unique materials, allowing us to remain budget-conscious during the design and execution of the renovation,” says Suzanne Sallata, director of visual merchandising, flagship stores, Toys “R” Us. “And focusing on the brilliant color palette of our brand ensured that the department is seen vividly at night.”

In contrast to these bright accents, the use of white as a background on perimeter walls, fixtures and ceiling surfaces helps highlight natural light from panoramic windows along the flagship’s 58th Street perimeter.

Because the cost of a new ceiling was deemed prohibitive, an internal design team took advantage of existing ceiling coves, positioning fixtures below each one and using colorful graphics and lighting to accentuate the store’s vertical space.

Oversized, rotating characters and candy sculptures, graphics and accents in mirrored pinks, purples, greens and reds also help draw shoppers’ eyes to clear Plexiglas candy displays and other product offerings.

2) Chipotle Mexican Grill, Boston

Conversion – Restaurant/Specialty Food Shop
Submitted by: BKA Architects Inc., Brockton, Mass.

Renovations sometimes entail an old building. But when BKA Architects (Brockton, Mass.) converted an old bookstore to a Chipotle Mexican Grill in Boston, they were faced with working in the city’s oldest building, erected in 1718 and still called “the Old Corner Bookstore” by Bostonians.

Designers faced several challenges in the historic building’s narrow space. “Everything was a very tight fit,” says Keith Bettencourt, senior associate, retail director at BKA Architects, who collaborated with Chipotle’s internal design team on the project. “Simple applications like exhausting the grease hood became an enormous challenge, as were unusually low ceiling heights and structures.”

To address these obstacles, the design team used modified versions of Chipotle’s signature modern furniture and fixtures, which contrast with existing, historic elements such as exposed brick and wooden floor joists. On the second floor, which spans two buildings, a central chandelier ties together a ground-floor serving counter with upper-level seating.

This year’s judges pointed to the careful preservation of these raw elements and the mix of historic and industrial elements as areas where the design team excelled. “They respected the building; it doesn’t necessarily feel like a Chipotle,” says Amanda Handermann, a designer at Macy’s Inc. (Cincinnati) and one of this year’s judges.


3) Intermix, New York

Conversion – Specialty Store, Sales Area under 10,000 Square Feet
Submitted by: Janson Goldstein LLP, New York

On Manhattan’s West Side, the High Line park, created of and around a 1930s freight rail line, posed an unusual challenge for designers at Janson Goldstein LLP (New York). The team was tasked with converting an attached retail space into an Intermix (New York) shop last year.

Among the greatest challenges, says Mark Janson, a partner at Janson Goldstein, were the High Line structure (which forms the ceiling of the space), two glass walls and a 4-foot, immovable loading dock.

Designers used the High Line structure to set the mood of the space, converting the loading dock into a raised fitting area and relying on the large windows to improve visibility into the store. Antiqued black steel and bead-blasted stainless-steel fixtures match the space’s industrial tone.

An angular, wooden ceiling fabricated from fumed European white oak with a custom, gray stain was also added. The wood curves down the back wall and into the fitting room area, eventually becoming the floorboards of that space, creating what Janson calls “a warm, wood grotto.”


4) Duane Reade, New York

Conversion – Convenience Store
Submitted by: CBX, New York

It’s hard to imagine a stress-free marriage of a grandiose, historic space and a health and beauty chain, but this year’s judging panel was impressed by Duane Reade’s (New York) transformation of New York’s landmark Bank of Manhattan Trust building into its newest flagship location.

The space further strays from the typical drug-store sector mold by offering a spate of luxury options, including sushi and juice bars, blow-dry hairstyling and a variety of natural foods within an upscale environment that balances vaulted stone archways, gold-gilded accents and a sleek, minimal look.

“The contrast between old world materials, arches and columns mixed with the modern surfaces and graphics is really interesting,” says Macy’s Handermann. Here, shopping for Band-Aids and toothpaste under a crystal chandelier works.

The 22,000-square-foot space also challenged CBX (New York) to remain sensitive to the landmark’s architecture while creating a layout that requires minimal navigation. To accomplish this, the brand’s three main product offerings – beauty, health and wellness, and convenience goods – were assigned one of the brand’s colors, which were used to identify merchandise areas with minimal signage. For example, the Look Boutique beauty department is rimmed with backlit lavender signage, while graphics and sepia-toned images throughout the store reinforce the brand’s longevity.


5) Woolworths Clearwater, Johannesburg, South Africa
Renovation – Department Store
Submitted by: Woolworths, Cape Town, South Africa

6) Oasis Argyll Street, London
Renovation – Specialty Store, Sales Area under 10,000 Square Feet
Submitted by: Dalziel and Pow Design Consultants, London

7) 0/3 Baby Collection, Hong Kong
Renovation – Specialty Store, Sales Area under 10,000 Square Feet
Submitted by: PSSL Design, Hong Kong

8) Conversion – Tourneau, New York
Specialty Store, Sales Area under 10,000 Square Feet
Submitted by: Shawmut Design and Construction, Boston

9) Bob’s Stores, East Northport, N.Y.
Conversion – Discount/Mass Merchant
Submitted by: FRCH Design Worldwide, Cincinnati


Nine Showstopping Retail Renovations | VMSD


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