David Adjaye, the Tanzanian-born British architect, and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the wunderkinder behind fashion house Proenza Schouler (pronounced pro-EN-za SKOOL-er), have a lot in common: both parties found relatively early success and have been hailed for pushing the envelope in their respective design fields. It's fitting, then, that Hernandez and McCollough commissioned Adjaye to create their company's first store in their home base, New York City.
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The 3,000-square-foot boutique occupies a double-height ground-level retail space in a historic Neoclassical residential building on Manhattan's Madison Avenue. Sandwiched between a hair salon and a jeweler, its facade stands out, particularly with its bronzed-steel door, out of which dozens of triangles have been cut. This motif is a nod to both the fashion house's sumptuous garments–which are frequently woven, hammered, and scored with geometric patterns–and the hard-edged aesthetic that characterizes McCollough and Hernandez's work. “We played with using their name for a while, and their old logo, before settling on something more architectural,” says Russell Crader, the project architect for Adjaye Associates. The store took five months to complete, with concept and design lasting about two months, Crader explains, and construction about three.
Certain aspects of the $1.5 million project, such as removing an existing floor to create the double-height entry space and replacing a masonry lintel in the entryway with a steel bar, required approval by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Luckily, the design passed scrutiny, as “the steel screen is really part of the overall Proenza Schouler strategy for identity,” says Crader.
The exterior foreshadows the interior's rich yet rough-hewn aesthetic. In the entrance foyer, which separates the shop from the residences above, the design team treated the brick walls with an ash wash that's “rubbed in and gives the wall a stained effect,” says Crader. Ghosts of structural elements past, like holes in the wall left behind by joists, or discolored masonry, remain and become points of aesthetic interest.
On the first of two sales floors (the second occupies a mezzanine level accessed via a staircase at the back of the store), the combination of walnut-stained Parallam-wood walls and ceilings and halogen spot lighting sets a mood akin to an haute cave. Smaller goods–accessories, handbags, and shoes–sit atop short metal shelves that employees can rearrange by positioning them in various notches in the timber columns that run the length of the store. A platform at the rear of the boutique also accommodates product displays. “When they want to pair items in a collection, they have the flexibility to choreograph the space however they want,” says Crader.
Precast-concrete panels on the floors and walls of the second level lend the upper spaces heft without the darkness of the entry floor. Jackets, skirts, and larger ready-to-wear items hang from sales racks suspended from tubes of bronzed steel. Fitting rooms on this level are lined with soft, sandy-hued buffalo leather. On a recent visit, the punchy greens, yellows, and blues of the spring 2013 collection vibrated against the gray of the walls and floors. “While the space is not a blank canvas, it is a neutral environment,” says Crader. “There's just enough of a background to allow shoppers to focus in on the colors. It gives everything a bit of life.”
Formal name of building: Proenza Schouler
Location: 822 Madison Avenue
Completion Date: July 2012
Gross square footage: 3010sq/ft
Total construction cost: $1,500,000
Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Architect of record:
Al Smith III AS3 Design Studio
Contact name and phone number should we have additional questions on specifications
Russell Crader 212 965 8477
Metal/glass curtain wall:
Hardware consultants: Weinstein & Holtzman, Inc
Paints and stains:
Floor and wall tile:
Special interior finishes unique to this project: