This project won the 2013 Architizer A+ Jury Award in the retail category. See the full list of winners here.
Opening a boutique in Tokyo's Aoyama shopping district can be daunting. This tree-lined fashion epicenter boasts the creme de la creme of the luxury world—from high-end jeweler Cartier to experimental clothier Prada—as well as some of the most flamboyant, most adventurous store design out there. Which makes Jaklitsch / Gardner Architects' Tokyo flagship for the hip American brand Marc Jacobs all the more surprising. The building has no logos, no flashy signage, no cute gimmicks. Instead, it stands apart from its other high-fashion neighbors with its bold lighting, unusual materials, and elegant design.
The store's layered, stacked aesthetic is largely a product of zoning laws. Bordered by world-renowned architecture and a quiet residential neighborhood, the store couldn't exceed two above-ground floors. The resulting structure is a 2,800 square-foot vertical rectangle, wrapped in layers of transparent glass on the ground floor, black, blade-shaped terra-cotta tile in the middle, and LED-illuminated, perforated aluminum panels on top. The ground floor beckons to visitors on the street with its welcoming lighting and high ceilings—and its open display of covetous handbags. The dark-clad second floor, which houses womenswear, is actually quite airy inside, with luxurious cream carpets, sleek mirrors, and an open plan.
But it's the third layer that's the most interesting: It's open, housing nothing, which allowed the architects to double the building's height without violating building codes—and adding visual interest with its facade's custom-designed panels and beacon-like lighting.