The Burberry Chicago Flagship Store

The Burberry Chicago Flagship Store features a stainless steel facade system design-engineered and manufactured by Zahner. In the early 2000's Burberry began a global transition to re-establish the Burberry name as an international brand. As part of this transition, a series of Burberry flagship projects were made, designed by Callison+Barteluce and Burberry Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey.

One of the core strategies of Burberry's transformation has been the re-introduction of its core products through prominent flagship properties. Zahner has been involved as a facade supplier for many concept stores and flagship properties. Designers come to Zahner for the high-quality craft and innovative design-engineered details, which give these stores a sense of quality that moves a brand into museum-quality territory.

Burberry Chicago is no different. Completed in December 2012, the new building features a number of high quality connection details which give the building a unique aesthetic among Chicago architecture.

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Burberry Chicago Flagship at night.

“What I love are the contradictions of the city. It’s a very artistic city, yet it’s also a real business city. It’s an imposing city, yet one with a lot of green space and an attention to outdoor sculpture. Chicago feels like a place where there’s an admiration for something that has a long heritage, and that of course appeals to us.”

Christopher Bailey Burberry Chief Creative Officer

Zahner was brought onto the Burberry Chicago project to develop a black stainless steel facade and lighting system which would meet the highest standards of museum-quality metalwork desired by Burberry. Burberry's in-house designers developed the vision, led by Chief Creative Officer Christopher Bailey. In an interview with Michigan Ave, Bailey described how Burberry's vision meets Chicago aesthetics: “Chicago feels like a place where there’s an admiration for something that has a long heritage, and that of course appeals to us.”

Burberry designers brought in local and national architects to develop details for the project, including Callison Bartluce Architects in New York, and Solomon Cordwell Buenz as the architect of record in Chicago. Heintges Associates served as the building envelope and curtain wall consultant.

The structure features Burberry's signature check, rotated and fabricated as three-dimensional forms. The check motif has been a part of Burberry's core identity since the early twentieth century. By simplifying the classic check as a solid graphic and expanding it as into three-dimensional form, the design team was able to successfully unify the brand's core identity as an architectural icon.

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Burberry Chicago flagship store on Michigan Avenue.
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Detail of the mirror-black stainless corner connection.
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Elevation view of the Burberry Chicago flagship store.
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Burberry Chicago flagship store on Michigan Avenue.

Building the New Chicago Flagship

The facade is a unitized system featuring a black Ti-Stainless Steel (PVD) surface to create the Burberry's three-dimensional check. PVD stainless steel can be colorized to meet a variety of tones, and is often used for luxury items such as timepieces and luxury architectural fixtures.

The facade for Burberry Chicago is the second in a series of flagship stores to use the dark reflective material. The first was in Shanghai, produced by a local manufacturer in China. Burberry provided to Zahner a small detail from the original facade. The sample was intelligently crafted but it didn't mesh with the Zahner manufacturing process.

Zahner's design and engineering team approached the details from a different perspective, employing heavier gauge stainless steel, v-notched corners, and a interlocking system for efficient installation of the metal panel design. The system is also deeply set, providing a strong sculptural feel to the building's architectural accents.

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The design team visits Zahner in Kansas City to look at the Burberry mockup.
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The Burberry mockup at Zahner in Kansas City.
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Burberry Chicago upon completion.
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Burberry Chicago during construction.
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Detail of the Burberry facade in Chicago.
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Burberry Chicago flagship store on Michigan Avenue.