REI (Recreational Equipment, Inc.) has opened its first Manhattan location, in the landmarked Puck Building in SoHo. The 35,000-sq.-ft. space (14,000 sq. ft. of selling space) has been restored to honor the iconic building’s more-than-century-old history — with a respect to detail evident throughout. How did REI come to select the Puck Building?
“The space itself was unique, and we felt the location and history of the building really fit well with REI,” said Elizabeth Dowd, director of visual merchandising, REI, Seattle, and project manager for REI SoHo. “We thought it would make a compelling store for our first location in New York. It was not your typical vanilla shell, and now that it’s completed, we feel we couldn’t have chosen a better spot.”
The design blends REI’s outdoor ethos and nearly 75-year heritage with urban energy, while bringing to light the historic attributes of the Puck Building. The retailer consulted local historians in the renovation process.
“The design concept is all about respect — to nature and the building itself — authenticity and playing with the natural world, and how they all tie back to the REI ethos,” said Alex Shapleigh, design principal/designer, Callison, Seattle.
As part of the extensive renovation, decades of paint were removed to expose the building’s original brick walls and ceilings. The steel columns, which also had been painted over, were stripped down to expose their original cast iron finish. Two original chandeliers were refurbished and made focal elements of the space. Wood from the original construction was repurposed into the store’s cash wraps and canopies, display tables, chair railings, mirrors and other elements.
“Joists that were removed from the original floor were used for the stair treads in the new staircase,” Shapleigh said.
Historic items and original elements found in the Puck Building during the project were incorporated into display tables, fixtures and decor elements used throughout the space. Approximately 30 original stone printing tablets discovered during construction and dating back to the early 1900s are displayed near the cellar-level cashier area. (The Puck Building was t