With a longstanding history as favored restaurateur in New York’s Financial District, the Poulakakos family was at the top of the list of potential storefront tenants within the new Goldman Sachs headquarters building in lower Manhattan’s Battery Park City. The family welcomed the opportunity to parlay their expertise in food and wine into a new retail venue called Vintry Fine Wines, which is distinctive in its approach to the display and sale of bottles of wine.
“We really wanted each bottle to have its own identity on the shelves,” says Peter Poulakakos. “And we wanted a refined, clean, bright environment that would be an expressive backdrop for our wine bottles.” To craft a space that would reflect their core idea and well-edited offerings, the Poulakakoses enlisted New York–based Rogers Marvel Architects, who designed a crisp, jewel box of a store that departs dramatically from the musty, woodsy, jumbled qualities typically found in a wine shop.
Crafting a new typology
Peter Poulakakos wields the reins of the legacy begun by his father, Harry Poulakakos, founder and impresario of Harry’s restaurant in lower Manhattan, and has built his own emerging food empire, including Bayard’s, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar, Financier Patisserie, and Ulysses. The Poulakakos’s history in the food business enabled Rogers Marvel to design a clean, clutter-free space within a 2,100-square-foot footprint.
“Most wine stores generally require a ratio of 80 percent storage space to 20 percent display space,” says Tim Fryatt, the Rogers Marvel architect in charge of the project. “For every bottle on display, there are typically 11 in storage and the excess inventory results in dirty, cluttered environments filled with boxes.” The Poulakakoses, though, developed a business model that allows for much of the storage to be in remote locations. This enables “a new typology,” says Fryatt, “that allowed us to appropriate 30 percent of what would have been storage space for display, giving us 65 percent of the space for display.”
To accommodate the family’s distinct approach to marketing the wines, the architects also opted to depart from linear aisles and flat shelves characteristic of a typical wine shop. Instead, the space is designed as a series of undulating continuous shelves that wrap around a central display table and curve into a hidden niche at the back of the store. “The sinuous wall system allows the number of bottles in any given region to expand and contract as the inventory evolves, giving the store owners flexibility to adapt to variables in inventory as needed,” says Fryatt.
The cues for the flowing wall system were inspired by vineyard landscapes and that, in turn, influenced the overall aesthetic of the space. “We were obsessed with the rolling typography of a vineyard,” says Fryatt. “We were struck by the beautiful, languid views of grape vines on hills. And by working with curving continuous shelving, we were also able to visually expand the depth of field in the space and make it feel larger.”
Bottles animating the space
According to the architect, the presentation of the wine bottles in the store was inspired by Harry Poulakakos’s history and experience as a sommelier. “When you consider the most generous way to present a bottle of wine, you think of a maître d’ at a table, holding a bottle at the base and neck at an angle of slight repose with the label facing up at eye level,” says Fryatt. With this image in mind, Rogers Marvel used digital software to design a series of water-cut openings in the shelving to hold each bottle in a semi-upright position at varying degrees, allowing the bottles to become active players in animating the space and giving each its individual space to shine.
The wine itself, on the other hand, guided the architects’ choice of materials for the space. “We aspired to use materials that would age well as wine does,” says Fryatt. Luminous terrazzo covers the floor, counters are stain-resistant and durable white Corian, and rich brown leather that will develop an antique patina with age lends warmth as a backdrop behind and beneath the bottles.
With a design as highly honed as the shop’s retail concept, this bright, airy shop is sure to become a welcome downtown destination.
Key Design Highlights
- Linear vertical channels beneath the counters allow for neat storage of the remaining bottles of a case of wine, while a single bottle is gracefully showcased at eye level on continuous, sinuous shelves above.
- Magnetic labels can be easily repositioned along the edge of the stainless-steel shelving system, allowing for flexibility in placing wine bottles as inventory expands and contracts.
- Touch-screen technology and a state-of-the-art wine dispenser offers cutting edge service for sophisticated clientele.
- The flowing wall system was inspired by the landscape in which the grapes are typically grown, and the angles of bottles was inspired by a sommelier’s presentation.
Vintry Fine Wines
Designer Rogers Marvel Architects, PLLC
Client Vintry Fine Wines
Where New York
What 2,100 square feet on one floor
Cost/sf Withheld at client’s request
Architect: Rogers Marvel Architects.
Architecture project team: Rob Rogers, principal; Jonathan Marvel, principal; Tim Fryatt, project architect; Nebil Gokcebay; Shane Neufeld.
Contractor: Richter + Ratner.
Consultants: Hervé Descottes, L’Observatoire International (lighting).
Engineering: Thornton Tomasetti (structural); WSP Flack & Kurtz (MEP).
Other: Construction Specifications, Inc.; Jerome S Gillman Consulting.
Walls: USG Gypsum Wall Board.
Paint: Benjamin Moore.
Flooring: Port Morris (epoxy terrazzo).
Ceiling: Arris Group (stretch acoustic translucent); USG Gypsum Wall Board.
Lighting: Cathode Lighting Systems (decorative); Feelux (fluorescent/industrial); Flos (sconces); Lucifer Lighting (recessed); Modular International (recessed); Terra (task); Tokistar (task).
Doors: Dupont; Omina (hardware); Rixon (hardware).
Architectural glass/glazing: Mistral Architectural Metal and Glass.
Decorative glass panels/partitions: Mistral Architectural Metal and Glass.
Architectural woodworking: GER Industries.
Signage: Big Apple Signage.
Plumbing fittings/fixtures: Dornbracht; Lacava; Sloan.