view new Atrium Printemps

PARIS — Printemps department store has unveiled the first stage of a major renovation project that will see its men’s store transition to the retailer’s historic building on the corner of Boulevard Haussmann and Rue de Havre in Paris.

In partnership with design producer Yabu Pushelberg and design architect Uufie, the store has restructured the interior of the building, creating a central atrium space connecting its 10 floors along a double-curvated “sail” facade.

Inspired by the building’s former glass cupola, Yabu Pushelberg conceived the 82-foot sail structure like a cupola made of steel and glass that is turned on its side.

“Instead of having a dome or an arch on the top, we flipped it on its side and slid it down through the various floors in the atrium,” explained George Yabu, one-half of the interior design duo. “Inside this curved sail, we inserted dichroic glass windows, little triangular shapes, taken from the patterns of stained glass that were a modern interpretation [of] some architectural elements of the original building.”

Transparent sections offer 360-degree views of each floor, highlighting every merchandise segment as the shopper navigates the escalators at the heart of the building. The glass panels change color according to the light, giving a fluctuating view as customers navigate through the store.

“This is now the heart of the store, the first step in a process,” added Glenn Pushelberg, Yabu’s partner.

The project presented its own share of challenges, as the store has remained open throughout the works over the past 15 months as the atrium was made by cutting through the floors to create the void. One weekend night, 12 new escalators were installed in the space of 12 hours, hoisted through the roof by a crane.

Further work to renovate the store is due to begin in March and last for around nine months, only after which will men’s wear move to the new layout, with each floor dedicated to a specific product segment or category in a concept similar to Printemps’ main women’s store next door. Accessories, luxury, shoes, suiting and casual collections will each get a floor in the renovated store. The space allocated to men’s wear will grow from 75,350 square feet to 118,400 square feet.

“The aim was to show the diversity floor by floor, we wanted each environment to be differentiated according to its market segment, and to have a backbone that was coherent and brought everything together at the heart of the store, both in terms of image and traffic,” Printemps’ director of architecture Ion Metulesco explained.

“The vast central atrium becomes, as it was in the past, the image of the store as much as its historic storefront is,” he added. “When Yabu Pushelberg presented us with the idea of the sail, a vertical, contemporary manifestation of the historic cupola, it was both very simple and very strong.”

It is not the first time Printemps has partnered with the Toronto and New York-based interior design duo. They collaborated on the accessories space in Printemps’ main women’s store when it was renovated in 2009, and it is understood they will also be involved in further renovations going forward.

The current men’s building, which fronts on Rue du Havre, just off Boulevard Haussmann, will be the new home for cosmetics, home ware and children’s once men’s takes root in their current building, and will be renovated in a second stage.

Although specific plans have not yet been finalized, they are understood to be as ambitious as those currently underway for men’s.

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