Contract - True Blue: Levi's Meatpacking, New York, Designed by Anderson Architects

design - features - retail design



True Blue: Levi's Meatpacking, New York, Designed by Anderson Architects

18 August, 2011

-By Jean Nayar, Photography by Oliver Link


Flourishing in recent years with the arrival of fashion luminaries like Stella McCartney, Diane von Furstenberg, Hugo Boss, and Alexander McQueen, the western end of 14th Street in New York’s Meatpacking District has transformed into one of the most stylish stretches in the city. Yet thanks to the area’s landmark status, the character of the neighborhood’s hard-working heritage remains as well. Although it’s the newest retailer on the block, the recently completed Levi’s store looks and feels entirely at home in this context—almost as if it’s been there all along. (Click the "more photos" link, above left, to view images.)

Its easy fit with the neighborhood was no accident. Designed by New York–based Anderson Architects, the 5,000-square-foot store rings true not only to its context, but also to the Levi’s brand, which is firmly rooted in working-class America.

“This store is a combination of location and brand—they spoke to each other and merged nicely,” says architect Oliver Link, the project manager from Anderson Architects, which designed not only this Levi’s store but others in Times Square, São Paolo, Boston, and Malibu. “The neighborhood has been about manufacturing, meatpacking, and storage—it has the feel of work and labor, and all of the buildings and materials reflect that. The Levi’s brand is also about working people. The existing materials in the neighborhood, as well as those we introduced in the store, have a roughness that played into that theme.”

Brand building with local flavor

A limited budget and a fast-track schedule of about 10 months from concept to completion reinforced the architect’s authentic, no-frills approach to the design. To set a welcoming and familiar tone, they created a transparent storefront using glass framed by raw steel between the original landmark cast-iron columns and carried these elements throughout the interior of the long and narrow two-story space. Inside, the architects went back to the beginning by stripping the space down to its bones. They revealed bricks along one wall, exposed and painted the duct work, sprinkler, and electrical pipes that run along the ceiling, and polished the existing concrete slab floor―imperfections and all―to express the aged and worn character of the original shell. Amidst this backdrop, affordable, utilitarian materials such as raw steel, plywood, and concrete block underscore the local flavor—all are familiar faces in this neighborhood. New materials and finishes like Homasote, pegboard, plank wood flooring, unfinished MDF, and a troweled-on concrete finish over existing sheetrock furthers the workshop feel.

All of the display elements tie into the visual theme, too, as do fixtures and furniture. Flanking the glass doors, two deep, boxy vitrines encase mannequin displays that face both inward and out, visually connecting the store to the street. Overhead and throughout the store, display rods fashioned from cast-iron plumbing pipes as well as stackable pine crates resting on platforms complement the system of wood and metal display shelving. Vintage cast-iron library stacks akin to those used in the New York Public Library, oxidized bronze hardware, industrial light fixtures, repurposed workbenches, and old chalk-boards also play purposeful roles in the cohesive scheme.

“Our palette of materials was honest and robust, and we weren’t shy about showing how things were put together,” Link says. “The materials and joinery are kind of like the denim, rivets, and top-stitching along the seams of a pair of Levi’s jeans.”

Each section of the store was designed to evoke a sense of openness and ease. Partial-height walls clad in staggered Douglas fir boards pull double-duty: they delineate the central staircase leading to the lower level and separate the women’s clothing area from the men’s in the mid-section of the store. A ceiling-mounted pipe-rail system cleverly displays merchandise overhead, drawing the eye toward the back of the store. There, a bar with benches encourages customers to hang out and socialize with employees manning the rear cash wrap and fitting rooms. A modest worktable abutting the stairwell partition holds a compact electronic register that enables staff to ring up orders on the floor, too.

Design elevates customer service

Though the brand emphasis is on authenticity and essential materials, the configuration of the store was tweaked to suit the demands of this particular location amid high-end clothiers, where a high level of service and customization is expected. Spaces and merchandising fixtures were designed to showcase and deliver premium Levi’s product, such as custom hemmed and fitted jeans and apparel, as well as the Levi’s Vintage Clothing line, which includes reproductions of iconic designs from the company’s archives.

Opposite the rear cash wrap, a tailor shop enclosed in a vitrine-like area offers custom alterations on the spot and in the open, much like a restaurant show kitchen. A feature bar in the back displays new product that can easily be handed off to customers in the adjacent dressing rooms, while also promoting interaction between customers and store personnel. Even in these zones, every detail—from a vintage sewing machine to a custom abstract artwork depicting a jean jacket—enhances the overall design.

“There’s a lot of Americana connected to industry here,” says Link. “Like a worn pair of jeans, these elements look better with time—and they also relate to the history of the brand.”

SOURCES

WHERE
New York, New York. 5,000 total square feet on two floors. Cost/sf $380.

WHO
Architect: Anderson Architects. Architecture project team: Ross Anderson, FAIA, principal; Caroline Otto, AIA, LEED AP, senior associate; Oliver Link, AIA, project manager; Jason Sudik; Jason Papa; Ryan French; Brian Findley, AIA; Laurie Karsten; Ingrid Schmidt. Interior designer: Anderson Architects, with Levi’s Global Creative Services. Contractor: ISC Contracting. MEP engineering: Gilsanz Murray Steficek, LLP (structural); GNCB Consulting Engineers, Inc. (testing); Gad Ashoori P.E. (underpinning); Metropolis Group, Inc. (expeditor); Mirick Consulting (survey). Lighting: Wald Studio, LLC. Graphics: Levi’s Global Creative Services.

WHAT
Wallcoverings: Get Real Surfaces (concrete finish); Homasote (wall panels); Crane Compositions (FRP wall panels). Paint: Benjamin Moore. Flooring: Armstrong




True Blue: Levi's Meatpacking, New York, Designed by Anderson Architects

18 August, 2011


Oliver Link

Flourishing in recent years with the arrival of fashion luminaries like Stella McCartney, Diane von Furstenberg, Hugo Boss, and Alexander McQueen, the western end of 14th Street in New York’s Meatpacking District has transformed into one of the most stylish stretches in the city. Yet thanks to the area’s landmark status, the character of the neighborhood’s hard-working heritage remains as well. Although it’s the newest retailer on the block, the recently completed Levi’s store looks and feels entirely at home in this context—almost as if it’s been there all along. (Click the "more photos" link, above left, to view images.)

Its easy fit with the neighborhood was no accident. Designed by New York–based Anderson Architects, the 5,000-square-foot store rings true not only to its context, but also to the Levi’s brand, which is firmly rooted in working-class America.

“This store is a combination of location and brand—they spoke to each other and merged nicely,” says architect Oliver Link, the project manager from Anderson Architects, which designed not only this Levi’s store but others in Times Square, São Paolo, Boston, and Malibu. “The neighborhood has been about manufacturing, meatpacking, and storage—it has the feel of work and labor, and all of the buildings and materials reflect that. The Levi’s brand is also about working people. The existing materials in the neighborhood, as well as those we introduced in the store, have a roughness that played into that theme.”

Brand building with local flavor

A limited budget and a fast-track schedule of about 10 months from concept to completion reinforced the architect’s authentic, no-frills approach to the design. To set a welcoming and familiar tone, they created a transparent storefront using glass framed by raw steel between the original landmark cast-iron columns and carried these elements throughout the interior of the long and narrow two-story space. Inside, the architects went back to the beginning by stripping the space down to its bones. They revealed bricks along one wall, exposed and painted the duct work, sprinkler, and electrical pipes that run along the ceiling, and polished the existing concrete slab floor―imperfections and all―to express the aged and worn character of the original shell. Amidst this backdrop, affordable, utilitarian materials such as raw steel, plywood, and concrete block underscore the local flavor—all are familiar faces in this neighborhood. New materials and finishes like Homasote, pegboard, plank wood flooring, unfinished MDF, and a troweled-on concrete finish over existing sheetrock furthers the workshop feel.

All of the display elements tie into the visual theme, too, as do fixtures and furniture. Flanking the glass doors, two deep, boxy vitrines encase mannequin displays that face both inward and out, visually connecting the store to the street. Overhead and throughout the store, display rods fashioned from cast-iron plumbing pipes as well as stackable pine crates resting on platforms complement the system of wood and metal display shelving. Vintage cast-iron library stacks akin to those used in the New York Public Library, oxidized bronze hardware, industrial light fixtures, repurposed workbenches, and old chalk-boards also play purposeful roles in the cohesive scheme.

“Our palette of materials was honest and robust, and we weren’t shy about showing how things were put together,” Link says. “The materials and joinery are kind of like the denim, rivets, and top-stitching along the seams of a pair of Levi’s jeans.”

Each section of the store was designed to evoke a sense of openness and ease. Partial-height walls clad in staggered Douglas fir boards pull double-duty: they delineate the central staircase leading to the lower level and separate the women’s clothing area from the men’s in the mid-section of the store. A ceiling-mounted pipe-rail system cleverly displays merchandise overhead, drawing the eye toward the back of the store. There, a bar with benches encourages customers to hang out and socialize with employees manning the rear cash wrap and fitting rooms. A modest worktable abutting the stairwell partition holds a compact electronic register that enables staff to ring up orders on the floor, too.

Design elevates customer service

Though the brand emphasis is on authenticity and essential materials, the configuration of the store was tweaked to suit the demands of this particular location amid high-end clothiers, where a high level of service and customization is expected. Spaces and merchandising fixtures were designed to showcase and deliver premium Levi’s product, such as custom hemmed and fitted jeans and apparel, as well as the Levi’s Vintage Clothing line, which includes reproductions of iconic designs from the company’s archives.

Opposite the rear cash wrap, a tailor shop enclosed in a vitrine-like area offers custom alterations on the spot and in the open, much like a restaurant show kitchen. A feature bar in the back displays new product that can easily be handed off to customers in the adjacent dressing rooms, while also promoting interaction between customers and store personnel. Even in these zones, every detail—from a vintage sewing machine to a custom abstract artwork depicting a jean jacket—enhances the overall design.

“There’s a lot of Americana connected to industry here,” says Link. “Like a worn pair of jeans, these elements look better with time—and they also relate to the history of the brand.”

SOURCES

WHERE
New York, New York. 5,000 total square feet on two floors. Cost/sf $380.

WHO
Architect: Anderson Architects. Architecture project team: Ross Anderson, FAIA, principal; Caroline Otto, AIA, LEED AP, senior associate; Oliver Link, AIA, project manager; Jason Sudik; Jason Papa; Ryan French; Brian Findley, AIA; Laurie Karsten; Ingrid Schmidt. Interior designer: Anderson Architects, with Levi’s Global Creative Services. Contractor: ISC Contracting. MEP engineering: Gilsanz Murray Steficek, LLP (structural); GNCB Consulting Engineers, Inc. (testing); Gad Ashoori P.E. (underpinning); Metropolis Group, Inc. (expeditor); Mirick Consulting (survey). Lighting: Wald Studio, LLC. Graphics: Levi’s Global Creative Services.

WHAT
Wallcoverings: Get Real Surfaces (concrete finish); Homasote (wall panels); Crane Compositions (FRP wall panels). Paint: Benjamin Moore. Flooring: Armstrong

 


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