KaDeWe exterior mock-up


BERLIN — Berlin’s KaDeWe, along with the KaDeWe premium department store group’s Alsterhaus in Hamburg and Oberpollinger in Munich, are about to be transformed.

At an intimate dinner in KaDeWe’s famed sixth-floor food hall Monday night, editors were given a short rundown of the massive changes planned for the three-unit luxury department store group.

La Rinascente, which last year took over a 50.1 percent stake in the concern with its strategic partner the Central Group, and Signa, which holds the remaining 49.9 percent, are planning to invest 300 million euros to 400 million euros, or about $325 million to $435 million at current exchange, in a design renovation expected to take eight years.

Pritzker prize winner and Harvard professor Rem Koolhaas will be reshaping the 646,080-square-foot KaDeWe with its central atrium and rambling, circular setup into a four-in-one structure. Each quadrant is to be organized around an atrium and feature very different materials and designs. Save for the windows, which will reflect their original 1907 design that was more open and arched, there will be no specific intervention on the facade, Koolhaas said. One special new feature will be the rooftop, accessible by two elevators and open beyond retail hours, and offering an expansive view of the city.

Alsterhaus is to be redesigned floor by floor by Germany’s Kleihues + Kleiheus, whose recent projects include the National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, and Oberpollinger by John Pawson, whose work includes the stores of Christopher Kane and Calvin Klein, and the Design Museum of London. Interior designers including India Mahdavi from Paris, Storage Associati of Milan and Berlin’s Gonzalez Haase will also be contributing their flair to the new in-store design.

The stores will remain open during the renovations, with the first changes already to be seen in October, KaDeWe premium group’s chief executive officer André Maeder said. Alsterhaus will premiere a new luxury boulevard; KaDeWe, new shoes departments for men and women, and Oberpollinger, a new young fashion as well as a home department.

The changes will be extensive, Vittorio Radice, vice chairman of La Rinascente in Italy and Illum in Denmark, commented.

“There are so many things to change, but we are long-term,” she said. “We love this business, and we love to own a collection of European department stores. It’s an expensive business to run, but it becomes more valuable every day.”

The KaDeWe Group, according to Maeder, attracts 20 million visitors a year. Together, its three stores have a turnover of 600 million euros, or $651.9 million, with KaDeWe currently generating 400 million euros, or $434.7 million.

“There’s potential to grow in all three houses,” he said.

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