"The initial concept was to create a design for the space that is dynamic and eye-catching in the evening, with appropriate light levels during the day," says lighting designer Joe Saint of jkld, Inc., the New York City-based lighting consultants for the new Hugo Boss store that opened in April 2001 on the corner of Manhattan’s chic Fifth Avenue at 56th Street. Saint collaborated on the project with co-designer Alexander Radunsky of Light Options, also of New York, with Saint bringing a strong theatrical background to complement Radunsky’s architectural expertise.

"We had done numerous events for Hugo Boss in the past—runway shows, parties, and showroom lighting, and they liked our ability to create multiple looks with a single installation," notes Saint, referring to jkld, a company that counts among its fashion clients such illustrious houses as Gucci, Dior, Yves St. Laurent, Ralph Lauren, and many others. "For this, its flagship store, Hugo Boss wanted traditional lighting by day, and something different by night." The architecture of the new structure lends itself perfectly to such a desire, with a 70'x30'x40'-high glass atrium acting as the store’s main entrance and primary retail area, as well as a stunning space for after-hours parties and special events. "There is no signage," Saint adds. "It is all glass on both sides. They wanted the atrium to be the statement that the store would make, with the interior lighting as the focus."

Saint points out that the Empire State Building provided a reference; something people look at to see what color it is. By lighting the Hugo Boss atrium with 64 Altman Star PAR fixtures fitted with Wybron CXI color-mixing scrollers, the system allows for dramatic color-changing options on a nightly, weekly, or seasonal basis. Both fixtures and color changers are custom-painted white.

Twenty-eight of the Star PARs have 150W metal-halide lamps with a 10,000-hour life expectancy. These are on during the day, when they add an extra sparkle to the natural daylight that streams in through the three-story glass walls of the atrium. The additional 36 Star PARs have 575W incandescent GLA lamps. When these fixtures are turned on at night, the white walls, ceilings, floors, and furniture seem to glow as the atrium becomes a giant light box bathed in colored light.

"Marty Staff, president of Hugo Boss America, wanted a classic New York City blue," says Saint, "so the store turns blue at night. When they are not in a blue mood it can be switched to green or orange, for example, by overriding the computer program, which then resets in the morning."

The size of the Star PARs was one reason they were used on this project. "We were very limited in the depth we were allowed from the finished ceiling to the structure above it. The Star PAR fit the bill," Saint notes, adding that the availability of the fixture with the choice of either metal-halide or halogen lamps was a big factor as well.

The ceiling is divided into recessed troughs that measure 16" wide by 24' long by roughly 15" deep. Originally, they were designed to hold lighting fixtures as well as air handlers, loudspeakers, and sprinkler systems. In the end, only the lighting fixtures were installed in the troughs, with the Star PARs hung along with AR-111 pinspots used to light five islands of merchandise on the main floor. Lighting for retail spaces on the upper floors was not designed by Saint and Radunsky, and follows the Hugo Boss model of AR-70 and CDM PAR-30 fixtures recessed in groups of two or three in the ceiling, along with fixtures by Modular International.

Since the space is frequently used for parties and special events, the lighting brief called for flexibility, and theatrical flash. "They originally wanted this store to maintain the look of the other Hugo Boss stores, but with a 40' ceiling they couldn’t use only their traditional fixtures," says Saint. "However, they wanted a similar feel to the design aesthetic."

The Architectural–Entertainment Interface

The lighting system integrator for the project was Barbizon Lighting’s New York Systems Division, with Jeff Siegel responsible for creating the system layout and providing complete installation documentation and technical recommendations. One of Barbizon’s main tasks was to integrate the entertainment lighting system into the retail environment, acting as a go-between for the lighting consultant, the lighting distributor, the electrical contractor, and the owner’s representative.

Craig Fox was Barbizon’s project manager, handling much of the on-site coordination, working with the construction team to make sure the installation process ran smoothly. Brian Dunn, Barbizon’s service technician, worked with the electrical contractors from Kleinknecht Electric Company on properly installing, wiring, and programming the system. The lighting package was supplied by Shelton Lighting of New York City.

According to Barbizon’s brief, the overall lighting system is equipped to perform three main functions: provide general illumination during the day, operate automatically at night, and serve as an event lighting infrastructure as required. Behind the scenes, presets are stored and played back via a Rosco Horizon playback controller (PBC). All the fixtures within the atrium are powered via an ETC Sensor rack and an ETC Unison rack.

Troy Starr, of Barbizon’s show control department, engineered the inter-workings between the ETC, Rosco, and Crestron components of the control system, which consists of the Rosco PBC with a Crestron control system serving as the user interface. The Crestron system triggers the Horizon PBC via MIDI, with Crestron color touch screens providing user access for such functions as starting and stopping shows, recalling looks, and zone control.

Siegel notes that "the Horizon and Crestron systems were chosen for their programming capabilities and flexibility." One requirement was that this system be programmable via portable PC. With the Horizon software on his laptop, and the Hugo Boss program loaded in, Saint can make changes on-site or remotely and come in to upload to the Horizon PBC. "From a theatrical point of view, I understand Horizon software," he says. "I think in submasters and cues, while the Crestron system speaks a more architectural language." Initial on-site programming was accomplished using a portable PC and uploading the programming over an Ethernet network.

The system runs via an astronomical time clock with pre-programmed looks. "It’s easy for the store manager to scroll through a list of looks, hit a button, and the lights change, yet any adjustments they make will be automatically overridden at the time of the subsequent programmed event," says Saint. There are two Crestron keypads for the store manager to access, one by the dimmer racks and one on the main floor near the cash registers. "It is a very easy interface for the employees to use," adds Saint.

Barbizon’s installation includes three universes of DMX along with Ethernet, distributed to each of the 10 ceiling troughs containing the lighting fixtures. The DMX is distributed via three Doug Fleenor 1-in/11-out Opto-Splitters. Ethernet was installed for programming and future integration into the anticipated Advanced Control Network (ACN) protocol.

Three remote plug-in stations with DMX and Ethernet were installed for programming, and the addition of an external control console when desired, with a Doug Fleenor DMX Merger combining the Horizon signal and console signal. In each trough are a series of ETC input and output plates for distributing DMX, color scroller signals, 120V power, 208V power, and rigging points for moving lights. Also concealed in the ceiling are additional input and output plates for patching DMX to the outputs in the troughs, and nine Wybron power supplies. There is a door built into the end of each trough for access to these devices.

Programming for Parties

When parties and special events take place in the store, additional moving lights can easily be brought in and integrated with the existing system. The Horizon PBC can be overridden, and a separate console can be used to control all the fixtures, color changers, and additional moving lights to give the space a club feeling. "You could do it all with the Horizon if you wanted," notes Saint, "but you generally don’t have the time to do the programming. It’s not a seat-of-the-pants, on-the-fly interface like a traditional rock-and-roll lighting board."

Such events have included a rock-themed party. "The scrollers changed to the beat of the music, with an Avolites board controlling some [High End Systems] Cyberlights," says Saint, who created a hot-pink-and-magenta environment for a Playboy party whose decor included red velour couches in the atrium.

Both the lighting designers and Barbizon say the biggest challenge of the project was completion time. "We had four weeks to layout, fabricate, and install the entire lighting system in anticipation of a mid-April opening," explains Siegel. "The entire system layout was completed over a weekend and submitted the following Monday." Saint began working on the project in August 2000. "From August through October we submitted designs, then there seemed to be a break, as if the project had been put on the back burner. But the heat was turned up in January and there was a rush to finish it all in time."

Saint was approached about the project by his contacts at Hugo Boss, while the local architectural firm, The Phillips Group in New York City, had a previous relationship with Light Options. "There were certain nuts-and-bolts things such as formula calculations that needed someone with a more architectural background, so I suggested a collaboration," says Saint, who realized the project called for something other than a theatrical light plot. "jkld came up with a lot of the visual looks, the theatrical approach, and did most of the drafting, while Light Options brought their architectural experience to the table. For example, it was their idea to add the metal-halide PARs and pinspots."

In other words, Radunsky provided the basic architectural lighting scheme and did many of the working drawings, while Saint added the theatrical layer of color changers and special effects lighting. Radunsky also designed some yet-to-be implemented lighting for other areas of the store, including the cafeteria. Here he called for T5 fluorescent tubes with gel sleeves to backlight frosted glass panels in two freestanding walls, in the front of the counter, and on the far end wall of the cafeteria, which was also designed as a projection surface.

"The idea was to have glowing backlit partitions to define the area of the cafeteria. The intention was to have a very bright, high-contrast light at the bottom of the panels and a softer frosted glass at the top," says Radunsky, who also designed custom enclosures for Erco track lighting on the facade of the store.

What looks like a smooth collaboration by jkld, Light Options, and Barbizon on the inside translates to a successful retail project with great theatrical panache on the outside. The lighting not only gives flexibility to a space that can change almost effortlessly from store to disco, it also adds a new beacon of light to a rather dark stretch of Fifth Avenue at night.

Contact the author at elgreaux@primediabusiness.com.

Hugo Boss Atrium

Lighting Consultants
jkld, Inc.
Joe Saint, lead designer
Light Options
Alexander Radunsky, lead designer

Systems Integrator
Barbizon Lighting
Jeff Siegel, systems integrator
Craig Fox, project manager

Lighting Distributor
Shelton Lighting
Kevin Weltman

Electrical Contractor
Kleinknecht Electric Company
John Edwards, project manager

Architect
The Phillips Group
Steven Segure, lead architect
Alec Zaballero, project designer

Construction Manager
F.J. Sciame
Craig Nadeau, project manager

Lighting Equipment

1

Rosco ET Horizon playback controller

1

Crestron CNMSX controller

3

Crestron Color Touch Panels

3

Doug Fleenor Opto-Splitters

1

Doug Fleenor DMX Merger

1

Ethernet distribution system

1

Middle Atlantic equipment rack

1

ETC SR24 Sensor dimmer rack

1

ETC DR6 Unison dimmer rack

64

Altman Star PARs

64

Wybron CXI color-mixing scrollers

5

Wybron 24-way power supplies

4

Wybron 12-way power supplies

Photos: Zbig Jedrus