Wawa Takes on Florida with New Prototype
Convenience store operator Wawa is expanding through Florida with a fresh, new prototype whose palette, materials and textures complement the look and feel of the Sunshine state. The use of warm colors and abundant natural light enhance the store’s inviting, upmarket vibe.
The prototype reflects the language and style associated with Floridian architecture. Exterior elements include pastel colors, clapboard siding, pitched roofs and front porches that reference historic south and central Florida building types.
At the same time, travelers from the East and the Mid-Atlantic will recognize the Pennsylvania-based Wawa’s signature Canada Goose logo and “winged” gas canopy.
“While the design is uniquely Floridian, every other visual reference is recognizably Wawa,” said Joseph Bona, retail division president, CBX, which designed the prototype (with the help of Orlando, Fla.-based Cuhaci & Peterson).
The prototype has an open, uncluttered look, made all the more so by high ceilings and streamlined modular fixtures and shelving. The materials, which include natural stone, several types of tile and maple laminates were chosen to add to the store’s warm and welcoming aura, Bona said, and complement the Florida look.
Expansive windows provide a clear view to the interior, where fresh food takes center stage. A red-tiled wall placed front and center highlights a center island kitchen area where fresh rolls are baked off daily. The area serves as a focal point and incorporates a full-service specialty beverage section. Customers can order drinks and sandwiches exactly to their liking using Wawa’s touchscreen system. A series of screens are positioned at the area’s counters.
Adjacent to the counter area are the coffee and fountain beverage departments, which feature a warm taupe tile wall as a backdrop.
“Red drum shades that are used over the coffee area and at the beverage coolers help create a sense of place,” Bona said.
Digital signage calls attention to the food and beverage offerings in a fun way while allowing for better time of day communications of various items.
Based in Wawa, Pa., Wawa operates more than 600 stores in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. To date, the company has rolled out 25 stores in Florida, all featuring the new design.
Update on Flooring
Whether it’s a high-end specialty store or a big-box discounter, flooring can go a long way toward setting the right mood — and making shoppers feel comfortable. “It’s naturally innate in us to look down at the ground,” said Nathan Lee Colkitt, CEO, Colkitt&Co., an architectural firm with offices in San Diego and New York City. “If we get the lay of the land, we feel safer and more comfortable.”
Ninety percent of a person’s visual field is below the eye sight line, Colkitt added, which helps make retail flooring “hugely important.” It is, he said, the single most important finished material in a space.
“We are all always in contact with the floor,” he added. “And we take it for granted.” Slowly, said Colkitt, retailers have been making more use of floors as image creators and information providers. A shift in flooring design or use of material can take a shopper from one area to another, with no signage or fixtures needed.
“You can demarcate a space using the floor,” he said.
One of the biggest areas of change in flooring is the emergence of printing techniques that enable the transfer of almost any image onto ceramic tiles and other materials. Also now available are “through color” tiles, meaning if the tile chips, the retailer won’t be left with an exposed white spot.
For Puma’s store in the SoHo section of Manhattan, Colkitt and two project partners carried through the urban theme of the space and imprinted a manhole cover on the ceramic tile floor in the fitting rooms. The flooring in the fitting room for a new Puma store in Miami will resemble a pool. “It will feel like you are walking on top of water,” Colkitt said.
Meanwhile, new vinyl tiles in wood veneer are becoming popular in supermarket deli and produce departments for their easy care, with vinyl tiles that look like slate being embraced as a cost-effective alternative to the real thing.
“Retail clients are now able to use different materials, such as porcelain tiles or less expensive vinyl, but with the same design,” said Gaston Olvera, project director for MBH Architects, Alameda, Calif. This is helpful for retailers with tiered stores — they can have a similar look in all stores but at a lower cost than a flagship.
Flooring materials have also become available in plank sizes — not just squares — which allow for the creation of different floor designs and patterns. And like a fresh coat of paint, thinner flooring products are emerging that can be laid over existing floor.
“With these you don’t have to take out the old,” Olvera said.
Durability and maintenance costs remain top concerns for big-box retailers when choosing flooring, although most are willing to spend a bit more to accent big-ticket departments, according to the architects. Polished concrete is still the workhorse.
A floor’s overall look, color and texture naturally come into play.
“Often retailers think about neutrals so they don’t overpower what they are selling,” said Olvera. He recently worked on a new Camper store in Santa Monica, Calif., that deliberately used only white floor tiles to help product stand out.
Sustainability has also entered the flooring conversation, with topics including not only the type of material, but what types of cleansers are needed to take care of it.
Laura Klepacki is a contributing editor to Chain Store Age.
Buildings Go Green
Green building is on the rise, with half of all new U.S. retail and hotel projects expected to be green by 2015, according to recent surveys. The boom is credited to a number of factors, including higher energy efficiency standards, a move toward greater transparency, decreased operating costs, increased sustainability awareness and a more responsible use of building resources.
According to Lux Research, an independent research firm specializing in emerging technology, the green building sector is expected to grow by $280 billion globally by 2020.
As stores and commercial buildings go green, here are the top trends* to look for:
• Alternative energy sources: More businesses are turning to alternative energy sources in efforts to lower utility costs, meet green building standards and generate their own electricity. One increasingly popular choice is solar power, which harnesses the sun’s free, clean energy to power HVAC, lighting and more — while lowering electric costs and impact to the environment.
• Increased visibility: The release of publicly disclosed building use in New York City is likely to set up a trend for other U.S. cities, making businesses more accountable for their utility use. Building product manufacturers are catching on, too, offering increased transparency with environmental product declarations.
• Net zero: Net-zero building status once seemed impossible to obtain, but it’s becoming more common (net-zero energy buildings generate as much energy as they consume). Now, commercial building developers and architects are starting to showcase net-zero energy designs as a means of differentiation from competitors.
• Daylighting: An increasing number of new building designs and retrofits rely on daylighting to reduce energy costs by up to one-third, positioning windows, skylights or other openings and reflective surfaces to take advantage of the sun’s natural light. This method also relies on a daylight-responsive lighting control system that automatically adjusts brightness when daylighting is inadequate, helping to keep energy use and costs in control.
• High-efficiency HVAC: Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning can account for 40% to 60% of a building’s energy use, making it an obvious first item to tackle in greening efforts. High-efficiency HVAC units are not only equipped to meet current building efficiency standards, but also are built with features such as MSAV (multi-stage air volume) supply fan technology that can boost overall comfort while dramatically reducing electricity costs.
• Local sourcing of raw materials: Local material sourcing reduces the amount of energy involved in transportation to the building site, resulting in lower carbon emissions. (*Trends source: Lennox Industries)