Armani Fifth Avenue New York

September 01 2009 — by Keith Bradshaw
The installation is complete. The video content has been programmed. The new media façade at Armani Fifth Avenue is now fully functional and creating a classy distraction for New York shoppers.
Speirs and Major Associates first began its association with Giorgio Armani with the flagship store in Tokyo’s Ginza district, designed by Fuksas Architects. Since then, the UK designers have worked on successive Armani stores in Milan, Beijing and Hong Kong. The opening of Armani Fifth Avenue, also by Fuksas, was timed to coincide with New York fashion week on February 16th 2009 and was therefore built to a very tight deadline, some three months ahead of the original schedule.

The Fifth Avenue design presented several unique challenges, yet the essence of the scheme was to evolve and perfect the approach that had begun in Ginza in 2007. The lighting had to respond to both the overall shop image and a strict requirement to conceal the lighting equipment at all times.

The exterior was conceived as an elegant glass box, with a cinematic LED façade forming a semi-transparent veil. As the Fifth Avenue planning association prohibited the use of overt commercial signage, the façade was conceived as a low-resolution art screen, only very subtly promoting the Armani message.

The screen, designed by Speirs + Major, is composed of a series of vertical, mirror-polished bars with LEDs mounted at 100mm intervals. The spacing between the bars increases along the length of the building, from 200mm at one end to as much as 3200mm at the far end of 56th Street. The impact was to create a high-resolution image at the corner, with the image resolution gradually dissolving down the length of the store. This carefully planned approach preserved the transparency of the glass facade and was approved by the Manhattan planning department. Media content on the screen is updated on a 6 monthly cycle to match the fashion calendar and with themes associated to the brand narrative.