The Nike Fieldhouse Store in Santa Monica, California (click the "more photos" link, left, to view additional images), marks the debut of a new marketing concept that the sportswear giant is introducing nationwide. In contrast to its Niketown stores, which resembled glossy entertainment centers with their oversized graphics and multiple video displays, the new model recalls the corporation’s heritage through references to gyms, running tracks, and sports fields. TVA Architects collaborated with Nike’s Direct to Customer (DTC) retail design division to create an interior that is earthy and experiential. The material palette and every fitting and finish was meticulously plotted to reinforce associations with athleticism and highlight the latest products, without being overly thematic.
The show begins on the sidewalk. The two-story, 18,600-square-foot corner store is an anchor for the new Santa Monica Place, an upscale shopping center located across from a busy pedestrian promenade in downtown Santa Monica. The city had already approved developer-proposed conventional facades, and TVA fought to secure permits for its design that incorporates the branding elements Nike desired.
An enticing entrance
Form-poured concrete and horizontal wood boards frame the expansive east- and north-facing glass windows and a sheer glass bay that projects out above the recessed corner entry. Dark coated aluminum mullions complement the exposed steel frame, and brackets support channel letters with the name and familiar swoosh logo in Nike’s trademark orange. The crisp, layered geometry of the two facades is as great an asset to the street as it is to the brand, drawing attention as effectively as Apple’s minimalist storefronts. Changing graphic displays animate the street-level windows.
The interior amplifies the material language of the front of the building. Recalling the oblong form of a running track, curved lines were stenciled in black dye onto the gray concrete floor. The metal ceiling deck, cut away at the center to provide a visual link to the upper level, and the exposed service ducts are all painted matte black. Two steel-framed vertical slabs that rise through the center void to the top of the store are faced in wooden boards, lettered and numbered to evoke bleachers. The boards serve as backdrops for an array of athletic shoes and basketballs in metal hoops, and the short sides of these vertical slabs are clad in black metal ornamented with graphics of sports figures in action.
Allusions to athletics
A number of allusions are woven into this expansive store. The staircase across from the entry has a welded wire mesh balustrade and a back wall of white tiles like those in gym showers. A stylized portrait—composed of sports gear painted matte black—of Bill Bowerman, the University of Oregon track coach who pioneered innovative athletic shoes and co-founded Nike, is accompanied by his motivational mantra, “If you have a body, you are an athlete.” Green benches resemble stacked wrestling mats secured with canvas straps. Elegant black steel racks and display tables alternate with metal foot lockers. A large video screen on the far wall draws attention to Nike’s key product, the men’s and women’s athletic shoes. The shoes are mounted in rows on a black fiberglass wall embossed with geometrical relief patterns that recall Nike’s humble origins when Bowerman used a waffle iron to impress a non-skid surface on a running shoe’s sole.
Gym lighting is evoked in the wire mesh that screens the hanging lamps. Pin spots highlight the displays, which jump out from the dark and monochromatic backdrops. Shoppers can customize shoes and tee shirts at installed computer terminals, and pick up their orders soon after. The second floor includes merchandise for both sexes and a variety of sports. Sections are devoted to basketball, football, and soccer, and there’s a dramatic view of the ground floor over the wire-reinforced glass balustrade around the central void.
TVA’s long relationship with Nike
The interior was a joint venture between TVA and Nike, both based in Portland, Oregon. TVA has had a long relationship with Nike since designing the company’s corporate campus in the 1990s. TVA project architect John Heili says, “The Nike design team selected the ingredients, materials, and palette, and we used their playbook to determine how the store would be executed. We were aiming for a sophisticated abstraction of sports facilities without resorting to mimicry.”
Howard Lichter, the former Nike DTC design director, concurred with Heili. “TVA was a great creative partner and was instrumental in bringing our vision to life,” Lichter says. “The concept represents an updated expression of modern sport and our DNA, using a unified palette to create an authentic environment that serves as a stage for our product, athlete, and innovation stories.” (Click the "more photos" link, above left, to view additional images.)
Architect: TVA Architects. Architecture project team: Robert Thompson, FAIA, design principal-in-charge; Montgomery Hill, AIA, NCARB, IIDA, facade architect; John Heili, AIA, LEED AP, project manager, interiors architect; Eric Li; Nick Williams. Interior designer: Nike DTC. Interior design project team: Richard Clarke; Howard Lichter; Nathan Roelofs; Satoru Igarashi; Lois MacKenzie. Contractor: WE O’Neil (exterior); NCI (interior). Lighting consultant: Doug Russell, Lighting Workshop. Structural engineering: Anne Monnier, PE, SE, KPFF Consulting Engineers. MEP engineering: Grayson Hart, PE, LEED AP; Glumac. Graphic designer: Nike DTC.
Nike Fieldhouse at Santa Monica Place in Santa Monica, California. 18,600 total square feet on two floors. Cost/sf: Withheld at client’s request.
Flooring: Preferred Global. Carpet/carpet tile: InterfaceFLOR. Ceiling: Armstrong. Lighting: Capital Lighting. Doors: Benson; U.S. Aluminum; Hanset Corp. Glass: Benson; Viracon. Window treatments: MechoShade. Shelving: Nike RTC; PIPP Mobile. Signage: North America Signs. Furniture: Nike DTC/RTC.