Contract - Restoration Hardware

design - features - retail design



Restoration Hardware

23 September, 2013

-By By Melissa Feldman. Photography by Kathryn Barnard and Jared Kuzia


Restoration Hardware, the San Francisco–based chain, has repositioned its brand from a nuts-and-bolts home and lifestyle store into a high-end boutique selling luxurious, European–inspired furnishings. When the company searched for real estate in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, it opted for a property with a pedigree—The Gallery at the Historic Museum of Natural History. A Restoration Hardware megastore debuted this spring within the 40,000-square-foot space, which was once occupied by The New England Museum of Natural History.

Decades ago, the three-story brick structure housed a range of natural specimens, including whale bones and aviary displays. Designed in 1862 by William G. Preston, a prominent Boston architect, the museum eventually morphed into a retail complex; a branch of the department store Bonwit Teller occupied the space from 1949 until 1989, when Louis Boston, a local clothier, moved in. Adjacent Newbury Street has grown as a retail hotbed in recent years, and Restoration Hardware and the designers took advantage of the prime location.

Navigating historic preservation regulations and codes
James Gillam is a founding partner of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, a San Francisco firm that has overseen Restoration Hardware’s ambitious expansion. His firm, known for designing wineries in Northern California, as well as residential and hospitality projects, served as the design architect for this store in Boston. Bergmeyer Associates, Inc., was architect of record, and senior principal Joseph Nevin, who is well-versed in preservation as well as retail design, worked closely with Gillam to oversee the building’s massive restoration.

Because the structure was a historic property, standards for the restoration of the exterior were stringent and scrutinized by the Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) as well as the Beacon Hill Homeowners Association. The architects solved structural and code issues to be able to modify the interior spaces of the building, including the subterranean level that now features the RH Baby and Child product line, and the removal of mezzanine floors installed by a previous tenant. “A lot of time was spent early in the project exploring design concepts and doing 3D modeling, so when we got further down the line there were no mistakes,” Gillam says.

Two elevator shafts and a stairway had to be moved to accommodate a new entrance on Newbury Street, which previously did not exist. “The engagement of the street and the pedestrians on Newbury Street was of paramount concern to the BBAC,” Nevins says.

The design team attached an open glass-and-steel pavilion to the exterior that resolved two issues simultaneously: connecting the store to the street level while also providing handicap access. Ross De Alessi, known for illuminating historical and civic projects, created the dramatic lighting design for the exterior. 

After passing under the pavilion, shoppers enter into a grand lobby space and immediately see a massive counterweight elevator, also fabricated out of steel and glass. Gillam says a traction elevator installed in the iconic 1893 Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles inspired the elevator’s design. Easy navigation through the store was essential. “The circulation is a continuous loop on each floor, where one walks through four major rooms at the corners and transitions from one to another,” Gillam says. “One can experience the building in a very open manner.”

Restored surfaces and new European elements

While the floors on all three levels are concrete and needed little repair work, the process of plastering the walls and columns, and restoring their capitals, proved tedious. But Gillam says it was worth the effort. “It took longer than we thought it would,” he says. “But when you’re doing high-quality work like this, and working with historical aspects of the building—uncovering things that have been covered—it’s time consuming.”

Eighteen-foot antique mirrored archways and a dozen crystal chandeliers line the second floor, while the corner rooms showcase bedroom suites. The top floor atrium space now extends up to a gold-coffered ceiling.  A walkway, reminiscent of a French park, is lined with olive trees, and an illuminated, vintage 24-foot steel Eiffel Tower was purchased at a Parisian flea market. Four clubrooms on the top floor consist of a library, a music room with a bar, a billiard hall with an antique pool table, and a screening room for old movies. A wine bar will eventually serve wine from a Napa Valley vintner.

“This was one of the most complex projects I’ve worked on,” Gillam says. “In a nutshell, it was like completing major surgery.”


Restoration Hardware

  • Design Architect: Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects
  • Architect of Record: Bergmeyer Associates, Inc.
  • Client: Restoration Hardware
  • Where: Boston
  • What: 40,000 total square feet on three floors and one subterranean level
  • Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request

Key Design Highlights

  • The building’s exterior was restored to meet stringent historical regulations, and significant interior elements were also revived, including plaster walls, columns, and decorative column capitals.
  • A new glass-and-steel entrance pavillion and lobby elevator improve circulation without blocking views or detracting from historical architectural features.
  • Some existing mezzanines, partitions, and elevators, installed as part of previous renovations, were removed to open up the lobby and establish a connection with Newbury Street.
  • A mix of modern and traditional elements, including chandeliers and antiques, reflects the classic Restoration Hardware aesthetic.




Restoration Hardware

23 September, 2013


Restoration Hardware, the San Francisco–based chain, has repositioned its brand from a nuts-and-bolts home and lifestyle store into a high-end boutique selling luxurious, European–inspired furnishings. When the company searched for real estate in Boston’s Back Bay neighborhood, it opted for a property with a pedigree—The Gallery at the Historic Museum of Natural History. A Restoration Hardware megastore debuted this spring within the 40,000-square-foot space, which was once occupied by The New England Museum of Natural History.

Decades ago, the three-story brick structure housed a range of natural specimens, including whale bones and aviary displays. Designed in 1862 by William G. Preston, a prominent Boston architect, the museum eventually morphed into a retail complex; a branch of the department store Bonwit Teller occupied the space from 1949 until 1989, when Louis Boston, a local clothier, moved in. Adjacent Newbury Street has grown as a retail hotbed in recent years, and Restoration Hardware and the designers took advantage of the prime location.

Navigating historic preservation regulations and codes
James Gillam is a founding partner of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, a San Francisco firm that has overseen Restoration Hardware’s ambitious expansion. His firm, known for designing wineries in Northern California, as well as residential and hospitality projects, served as the design architect for this store in Boston. Bergmeyer Associates, Inc., was architect of record, and senior principal Joseph Nevin, who is well-versed in preservation as well as retail design, worked closely with Gillam to oversee the building’s massive restoration.

Because the structure was a historic property, standards for the restoration of the exterior were stringent and scrutinized by the Back Bay Architectural Commission (BBAC) as well as the Beacon Hill Homeowners Association. The architects solved structural and code issues to be able to modify the interior spaces of the building, including the subterranean level that now features the RH Baby and Child product line, and the removal of mezzanine floors installed by a previous tenant. “A lot of time was spent early in the project exploring design concepts and doing 3D modeling, so when we got further down the line there were no mistakes,” Gillam says.

Two elevator shafts and a stairway had to be moved to accommodate a new entrance on Newbury Street, which previously did not exist. “The engagement of the street and the pedestrians on Newbury Street was of paramount concern to the BBAC,” Nevins says.

The design team attached an open glass-and-steel pavilion to the exterior that resolved two issues simultaneously: connecting the store to the street level while also providing handicap access. Ross De Alessi, known for illuminating historical and civic projects, created the dramatic lighting design for the exterior. 

After passing under the pavilion, shoppers enter into a grand lobby space and immediately see a massive counterweight elevator, also fabricated out of steel and glass. Gillam says a traction elevator installed in the iconic 1893 Bradbury Building in downtown Los Angeles inspired the elevator’s design. Easy navigation through the store was essential. “The circulation is a continuous loop on each floor, where one walks through four major rooms at the corners and transitions from one to another,” Gillam says. “One can experience the building in a very open manner.”

Restored surfaces and new European elements

While the floors on all three levels are concrete and needed little repair work, the process of plastering the walls and columns, and restoring their capitals, proved tedious. But Gillam says it was worth the effort. “It took longer than we thought it would,” he says. “But when you’re doing high-quality work like this, and working with historical aspects of the building—uncovering things that have been covered—it’s time consuming.”

Eighteen-foot antique mirrored archways and a dozen crystal chandeliers line the second floor, while the corner rooms showcase bedroom suites. The top floor atrium space now extends up to a gold-coffered ceiling.  A walkway, reminiscent of a French park, is lined with olive trees, and an illuminated, vintage 24-foot steel Eiffel Tower was purchased at a Parisian flea market. Four clubrooms on the top floor consist of a library, a music room with a bar, a billiard hall with an antique pool table, and a screening room for old movies. A wine bar will eventually serve wine from a Napa Valley vintner.

“This was one of the most complex projects I’ve worked on,” Gillam says. “In a nutshell, it was like completing major surgery.”


Restoration Hardware

  • Design Architect: Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects
  • Architect of Record: Bergmeyer Associates, Inc.
  • Client: Restoration Hardware
  • Where: Boston
  • What: 40,000 total square feet on three floors and one subterranean level
  • Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request

Key Design Highlights

  • The building’s exterior was restored to meet stringent historical regulations, and significant interior elements were also revived, including plaster walls, columns, and decorative column capitals.
  • A new glass-and-steel entrance pavillion and lobby elevator improve circulation without blocking views or detracting from historical architectural features.
  • Some existing mezzanines, partitions, and elevators, installed as part of previous renovations, were removed to open up the lobby and establish a connection with Newbury Street.
  • A mix of modern and traditional elements, including chandeliers and antiques, reflects the classic Restoration Hardware aesthetic.

 


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