Launch Slideshow

The Natick Collection

The Natick Collection

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    Chuck Choi

    EPDM roofing
    Johns Manville
    jm.com
    Nonreinforced, fire-rated EPDM
    • Can be used as flashing material
    • For use on nonballasted systems
    • Comes in 50- or 100-foot-long rolls, depending on thickness
    • Available in 0.045-, 0.06-, and 0.09-inch thicknesses
    • Reinforced membranes in 0.045- and 0.06-inch thicknesses are also available

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    Chuck Choi

    A—Reynobond exterior aluminum panels
    Alcoa Architectural
    Products
    alcoaarchitecturalproducts.com
    Aluminum composite material
    • Two sheets of corrosion-resistant aluminum are bonded to either side of an extruded thermoplastic core
    • Structure eliminates dimpling and buckling
    • Can be formed into myriad curving shapes
    • Can be drilled, cut, punched, and routed with standard woodworking tools
    • High-performance coatings can provide varied colors and levels of gloss

    B—Glass curtain wall
    Kawneer
    kawneer.com
    • A series of curtain wall products are available to suit specific projects
    • Systems can be outside or inside glazed
    • Structural options include IsoStrut Thermal Break for increased thermal and structural performance
    • Pressure-glazed systems are available for low- to mid-rise applications

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    Chuck Choi

    Venetian plaster
    • Applied with blunted trowel to reduce edge marks
    • Applied to smooth surface
    • Trowel strokes define final pattern and create a variegated appearance
    • Crafted application creates custom finish with every use
    • Burnished using 100 grit sandpaper or power sander for large applications

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    Chuck Choi

    Olympia Collection
    Gammapar
    gammapar.com
    • Acrylic-impregnated, prefinished hardwood flooring 
    • Tight grain pattern on the surface from the sawn veneer construction • Tongue-and-groove sides fit together for installation
    • Microbeveled edges define each plank
    • Available in ash, cherry, jatoba, oak, pine, and walnut

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    Chuck Choi

    Charlotte lounge chair
    HBF Furniture
    hbf.com
    • Available as an armed or armless side chair and as a sofa
    • All models have the option of wood trim or a fully upholstered finish
    • Can be covered in standard upholstery fabrics or customerordered material
    • Designed by Barbara Barry

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    Chuck Choi

    A—Kelly ottoman
    Bright Chair Co.
    brightchair.com
    • Available in three sizes, with a radius of 26.5, 34, or 42 inches
    • Standard height is 16.5 inches
    • Leather upholstery
    • Chrome finish metal base
    • Frame uses wood from sustainable, certified green forests and suppliers

    B—Honed Jerusalem stone
    Tile X Design
    tilexdesign.com
    • Inherently varied appearance because of the use of natural stone
    • Stone cut to specific tile sizes and honed to create a similar texture
    • Laid like normal floor tile
    • Honed finish makes the stone suitable for high-traffic areas
    • When properly sealed, maintenance and cleanup are minimal, making it suitable for large-scale commercial applications

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    Bridge bench
    Keilhauer
    keilhauer.com
    • Available with chrome, nickel plate, powder coat, wood stain, or wood veneer finish
    • Part of the Bridge series, which also includes ottomans and tables
    • Single high-density foam cushion, with seam across the middle of the upholtery fabric to break up the top surface
    • Steel base and kiln-dried hardwood or engineered hardwood frame with a seat deck constructed from woven rubber webbing

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    A—Weave accent tile
    Shaw Contract
    shawcontractgroup.com
    • Modular carpet tile
    • Multilevel pattern with both cut and looped pile
    • Yarn dyed
    • Face weight is 40 ounces
    • Available in 16 colorways
    • Option for custom coloration, as used in this project
    • Uses 27.2 percent postindustrial recycled content

    B—Man Made modular tile
    Shaw Contract
    shawcontractgroup.com
    • Uses the Ecoworx backing system
    • Contains 100 percent Antron Legacy nylon
    • Face weight 40 ounces
    • Available in eight colorways
    • Colorway used in this project is Lanna
    • Uses 38.4 percent postindustrial recycled waste

    C—Laurel bench
    Bernhardt Design
    bernhardtdesign.com
    • Bench measures measures 60 inches by 23½ inches
    • Seat height is 18½ inches
    • Constructed with wood and veneers from sustainable suppliers
    • Finishes such as glue, coatings, and fabric are contain low TVOCs and low formaldehyde

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    A—Skylights
    Architectural Glazing Technologies
    agtglazing.com
    • Formerly known as the Architectural Skylight Co.
    • Ball-and-socket hinge with a slope range of 15 degrees to 45 degrees simplifies installation
    • Hidden fasteners provide uncluttered finished appearance
    • In house custom design department for monumental skylights

    B—Surface-mounted metal halide fixture
    LSI
    lightingservicesinc.com
    • Ceramic metal halide lamps in fixtures mounted three on a track
    • Uses less energy than fluorescent fixtures while still offering high light output
    • Even distribution over the undulating ceiling plane ensures even light distribution across the space below

    C—Interior latex paint
    Benjamin Moore
    benjaminmoore.com
    • Several lines of interior latex paint in a variety of gloss levels
    • Low-VOC options are available
    • Full color spectrum allows for thousands of possible colors and tints
    • Special enamels available for ceilings and trim

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    Chuck Choi

    Vinyl-clad ceiling tile
    USG
    usg.com
    • Modular ceiling tiles
    • Vinyl-clad for uniform appearance and easier maintenance
    • Fit within a USG grid-mounting system
    • Tiles can be changed out in case of damage

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    Chuck Choi

    Scuff master Paint
    Wolf-Gordon
    wolf-gordon.com
    • Water-based paint for interior walls developed for institutional and commercial environments
    • Meets or exceeds LEED standards
    • Class A fire rating
    • Durable finish resists scuffing and soiling in high-traffic environments
    • Polyurethane formulation

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    Chuck Choi

    9300 Series escalators
    Schindler
    schindler.com
    • Three modular escalator packages available, including 9300AE-Transport for low-rises, 9300AE for high requirements and high-rises; and 9300 for medium requirements
    • Package includes pre-engineered solutions to cover most applications
    • Different coloration options for treads, belts, and siding
    • Escalators can be specified and configured to installations with rises as high as 13 meters
    • Energy-saving features available to help reduce running costs
    • All options engineered for high capacity and traffic

Adrift in the overwhelming first few days of their first large-scale mall project, the Beyer Blinder Belle (BBB) team designing the new Natick Collection in Natick, Mass., decided to focus on the details, or one in particular: the meaning of the town's name. In the language of the Native Americans who christened the area, Natick means the “place of the rolling hills.” With that simple inspiration, the design for a massive 1.7-million-square-foot renovation and expansion began to take shape, transforming an average suburban strip mall into a center for high fashion.

The Natick Collection is situated near several major thoroughfares: Route 9, Route 30, Interstate 95, and the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90) that siphons traffic into nearby Boston. The site has been a midlevel shopping center since 1966, known until last year as the Natick Mall, with anchor stores such as Sears and Filene's Basement.

“When we got to it, the building was kind of postmodern,” says Stanley Wong, an associate partner at BBB and the lead design architect. A modified dumbbell shape, the structure had undergone at least two separate renovations, the most recent in 1994. The client, General Growth Properties, realized the site's potential as a high-grossing, high-end retail site—it sits by wealthy suburbs like Wellesley, is accessible from Boston, and boasts an average yearly household income of $118,000 for the surrounding area. The time was ripe for raising the mall's profile.

Enter BBB. The firm was charged with gut renovating the existing mall (referred to by the project team as Natick I) and creating a new structure to more than double the retail capacity. Armed with its new high-end name—“The Natick Collection” evokes the experience of museum-going as readily as that of shopping—the design team created a space that would lure well-heeled tenants and shoppers alike.

Rather then expand up, the developers bought an adjacent plot of land to the north, which housed an old Wonder Bread factory. Existing wetlands on this new site informed the curved T shape of the new wing, which was part of a master plan by Richard Blinder.

The team's rolling-hills idea took shape as an undulating roof plane in the new wing with clerestory windows above the roofline, which added to the abundant daylight in the space. “The rolling hills also allowed us to create moments of contrast,” Wong says. “[Elements like] the elevator towers are very hard edged.” The new wing is connected to the old one by the Teardrop Court, which eases the transition between the two wings, making them feel like one fluid space.

The gut renovation of Natick I and the selection of a warm materials palette for Natick II went a long way toward upgrading the space. “In the end,” Wong notes, “the only things you can really design in a mall interior are the ceilings, the fascia, and the floor. When you reduce it to that, it seems pretty helpless, but we really pushed it.”

When BBB came onto the project, the original mall “looked like a very typical mall space with ceramic tile and a fancy ceiling,” says associate and lead interior architect Stefanie Ashton. “We wanted to warm up the materials and make it more high-end.” The renovation saw the addition of large-scale, stonelike porcelain tile floors on the first floor and Gammapar impregnated engineered wood floors on the upper level. Glass handrails increase transparency in the space.

The new wing took the idea of warm materials to a new level, using honed limestone and Jerusalem stone flooring, Venetian plaster on the exterior of the elevator shafts, and cherry wood ribs to line the light wells between the first and second levels. The flooring on the second level is modular carpet tile, a switch from the original intention to include the same style of hardwood flooring as in the old space. “The wood floor had a big learning curve in regards to maintenance,” says Ashton. “There is so much foot traffic, and it took a lot to get them up to speed on maintaining it.”

The curvy footprint and ceiling of the arcade almost wrecked the plans for the carpet tile, however. Because the pattern has a lot of direction, there was initial concern that it would fight visually with its shapely surroundings. Instead, the pattern ended up providing a welcome linear contrast. As tiles wear out, the maintenance staff can replace them individually, which was also a benefit in the high-traffic space.

Of course, by definition, a mall is a collection of retail tenants. Each has its own branded identity, over which the architects of the larger space have no control. But Wong and Ashton did what they could to make sure the high level of design was upheld.

“We created a new tenant criteria manual,” Ashton explains. “In certain cases, the manual worked, but what we realized is that when there are nationwide tenants, that can put a lot of pressure on the developers to do what they want.” Most tenants complied, because they recognized the benefits of being in a newly enhanced space, be it the old building or the new.

Part of the BBB team's scope of work was to oversee the tenants' designs. “Every time the drawings came in, we would look them over and tell them, ‘This is great, but could you push this section a bit more?' ” Ashton remembers. “You have to give credit especially to the small businesses who really bought into it and pushed the envelope,” Ashton says. “It was great.”

“In some ways, it was good that we hadn't designed a mall before,” says Wong. “We were thrown into the deep end of the pool.” The firm's strong design direction ultimately attracted 100 more high-end clients, including Neiman Marcus.

Shoppers are following. In retail, increased foot traffic is the truest sign of success, especially if the feet bring their credit cards.

Project: The Natick Collection
Location: Natick, Mass.
Client: General Growth Properties
Architect: Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, New York City—Richard Blinder (partner-in-charge); Stanley Wong (lead design architect), Carlos Cardoso (project manager/director of construction administration); Jean Campbell (project architect); Stefanie Ashton (interior design architect); Mark Nussbaum (phase I project architect, retail); Asli Aatov, Andrew Anderson, Claudia Bancalari, Joe Chen, Josie Choi, Erik Chu, Mei Chu, Bill Conway, Yetsuh Frank, Pedro Hernandez, Shehab Hossain, Bill Hovland, Mati Jacobi, Charlie Kramer, Orest Krawciw, Chris Lee, Karen Martin, Amanda McNally, Henry Miller, Rick Miller, Dai-Yi Ou, Edward Piatt, Erika Sandy, Mike Satow, Ivan Zurkiwskyj (project team)
Construction Manager: Dimeo Construction Co.
M/E/P Engineer: R.G. Vanderweil Engineers
Structural Engineer: McNamara/Salvia
Traffic & Civil Engineers: Vanasse Hangen Brustlin
Lighting Designer: T. Kondos Associates
Graphics and Signage: Redmond Schwartz Mark Design
Residential Architect: ADD
Landscape Artist: Martha Schwartz