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MADRID — The new Zara flagship here was 14 months in the making, said La Coruña-based architect Elsa Urquijo during a walk-through Thursday.

This story first appeared in the April 4, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The five-story, 53,820-square-foot corner location on shopping thoroughfare Calle Serrano — in a building owned by Zara parent Inditex founder Amancio Ortega — opens today.

The architectural challenge, she added, was preserving the tradition of the neighborhood and the building’s history — including its late-19th-century Castillian facade — and combining it with today’s modernity. The result is a “glass box” with 25,995 square feet of selling space filled with natural light and a chalky white palette; open display cases in a silver/gold-tinted metal especially made for the new store, and metallic fabric sandwiched between glass panels that give “glamour and shine to the clothes; they don’t look the same inside the store [as outside],” said Urquijo’s husband, Andrés Conde, managing director of Elsa Urquijo Architects.

“Customers will feel something different here. They may not know what it is, but they’ll feel it,” he said, pointing out the ground floor’s original exposed brick construction and continuous concrete flooring. “It’s the connection between old and new. You feel like you’re in a historic place.”

The first three floors are given over to a full range of Zara’s women’s collections including accessories, an expanding category. Men’s wear is on the third floor, and a 3,875-square-foot diaphanous showroom with wraparound north-south views (which is not open to the public) is on the top floor.

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