Gensler delivers gritty authenticity for the sportswear company’s New York flagship. Photography by Dirk Tacke

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In the age of athleisure, adidas is doubling down on old-fashioned athleticism, sports, and sweat: the company’s new flagship store on Fifth Avenue in midtown Manhattan, with a rugged design by Gensler, emphasizes activity and movement. The 45,000-square-foot store occupies four levels connected with stairs and stadium-style seating and crisscrossed with catwalks to create dynamic circulation.

“[Adidas] wanted to reflect its newly evolved point of view of the brand—it’s about the athlete’s journey,” says John Bricker, a principal at Gensler and creative director on the project. “It’s about authenticity. For adidas, it’s a differentiator. It’s not trying to be a lifestyle brand. It’s a sports brand.”

Kinetic design
A sense of movement is established at the entrance. Visitors enter a square tunnel with dramatic uplighting embedded in the floor, a compressed space that opens into the expansive ground floor. Materials like polished and board-formed concrete, steel and chain-link, and exposed ducts and conduits give the space its toughness. “If you go to a stadium, it’s not fancy. It’s concrete, cinderblocks. It’s very utilitarian,” Bricker says. The static, single-use approach to retail has been cast aside in favor of a more active, experiential, and event-based customer experience: stadium-style seating offers ample space for people-watching and is used by the brand to host in-store events, and floodlights hung from above recall high school football fields. “The ground floor is all about launches, showing new products, and letting people test things out for themselves,” Bricker says.

Consumer as creator
For Gensler, the design was about translating adidas’s brand identity into interior space. “Our target consumer is the ‘creator’ who appreciates shopping situations that feel like events, and seeks connectedness with brands that prioritize community and commerce and offer entertainment,” says Kate Maher, senior director of retail concept creation, concept to consumer at adidas.

“We designed the flagship as a platform to deliver these experiences and situations, which can evolve over time. We have deliberately designed and provided areas for creators and consumers to meet on the bleachers during a speaker series.”

The “field of play” theme is carried throughout the store: the outline of a basketball court is delineated in a neon ceiling fixture by design agency Checkland Kindleysides, which also created many of the store’s display systems and fixtures. Fitting rooms mimic players lounges; the designers decorated these spaces with vintage seating and memorabilia from New York-area high schools, adding a note of nostalgia to the hard-edged interiors.

The sports label believes in Gensler’s design vision—it’s teaming up with the designers for variations on the flagship in Paris, Beijing, and beyond. “Each store will be a living expression of the energy of that city,” Bricker says.

Maher adds: “At adidas, we believe that sport has the power to change lives. Our products are the means, and our consumers use those products to transform themselves, to change themselves, and to change the world. Both design and sport truly are transformative.”

who Architect and interior designer: adidas AG; Gensler; Checkland Kindlesydes. Adidas project team: Paul Gaudio; Kate Maher; Jeff Boylan. Gensler project team: John Bricker; Kathleen Jordan; Amelia Falco; Katharine O’Toole; Alexia Beghi; Tristan Davison; Caroline Lemoine; Andrew Herbst; Tony Rambrich. Checkland Kindleysides project team: Jeff Kindleysides; Hannah Shepard; Joe Keating; Steven Ubsdell; Clive Hunt. Contractor: JT Magen. Lighting: Lighting Workshop. Engineering: Timothy Kinneman (MEP); Rosenwasser/Grossman Consulting Engineers (structural); Gilsanz Murray Steficek LLP (facade).
what Paint: Benjamin Moore. Laminate: Nevamar. Walls: County Materials; GetReal Surfaces; Evergreen; Pure FreeForm; PrivacyLink; McNichols; Daltile. Flooring: Element Five Concrete Polishing; Robbins Sports Surfaces; Forbo; Nam Grass; Interface; Construction Specialties; Ross Technology; Ohio Gratings; McNichols. Ceilings: Circle Redmont; McNichols; Mistral. Lighting: Solais Lighting; Times Square Lighting; Contech; Barn Light Electric; Lumenwerx; Bartco; Schoolhouse Electric; Lukas Lighting; V2 Lighting Group; Waldmann; SPJ Lighting; Ketra; Lumenfacade; Lumenpulse. Doors: CR Laurence; Dorma. Glass: Agnora; Bendheim. Seating: Modway; WB Mason; Wayfair; Zin Home; Article Furniture; Rejuvenation; AllModern; Dwell Studio; Restoration Hardware; West Elm; Irwin Seating; Fleetwood Fixtures; Olde Good Things; Angela Brown (upholstery). Tables: Room and Board; Contract Furniture; CB2. Storage systems: HON; CB2; Heartwork; Custom woodwork: HNY; Galt. Signage fabricator: National Sign. Plumbing fixtures: Most Dependable Fountains; Toto; American Standard.

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