Neiman Marcus Flagship Store by Elkus Manfredi
The Neiman Marcus in Natick, Massachusetts is the store's Flagship property featuring a billowing facade designed by Elkus Manfredi Architects in Boston. The entire surface of the building is wrapped in a stainless steel curtain, a feature which flows throughout and into the building in the same style.
Elkus Manfredi Architects designed the facade's undulations with perspective in mind. When travelers drive by, the structure appears animated and kinetic, an effect caused by the way the facade curves in and out. Zahner worked with the architects to design a curving facade panel system that is both aesthetically powerful as well as economically effective.
Zahner produced the design using ZEPPS, a patented system by Zahner for producing curved forms. The use of ZEPPS enabled the complex curvature of stainless steel skins on the surface to flow evenly across the metal. This provides architects with the ability to produce any shape or form with exacting efficiency. The curvilinear system attaches to an otherwise rectilinear building.
ZEPPS is a patented prefab building system to streamline complex structural forms. Zahner provides the system as a comprehensive solution, inclusive of the design-engineering, manufacturing and installation.
Interference Stainless Steel
Light Interference Coatings (LIC) on stainless steel provide a broad range of color which changes in various lights. From a deep blacks to bold bright colors, the light interference process brings a whole spectrum to stainless steel. The fine coating adds an aesthetic layer to the metal without sacrificing the innate high-performance qualities of stainless steel.There is no material in architectural use today that equals the iridescence produced by light interference on stainless steel. The effect is made by immersing the material in an acid bath, which forms a chromium oxide film layer on the surface. The acid bath produces interference colors by closely controlling the thickness of the chromium oxide film layer. This oxide film layer is clear, yet remarkable colors are produced by the physics of light interference.The colors generated are those obtainable by separation of the light spectrum. Light reflects off the dual surfaces, the surface of the metal and the surface of the oxide film. Depending on the thickness of the oxide film or the angle of the light reflecting back to the eye, different colors can be obtained. Portions of the light wave are enhanced in relation to other adjacent wavelengths, or portions are counteracted by the misalignment of these wavelengths.
The skin is actually three different tones of colored stainless steel. Two of these tones were formed by a electro-chemical process which permanently changes the tone of stainless steel. Zahner has used this process for several other projects, including the Contemporary Jewish Museum which has a dark blue interference coating and a cross-fire brushed pattern. Interference stainless steel was also used on the The EMP Museum, The Meyer Fletcher Residence, and the Royals Crown at Kauffman Stadium.
In addition to providing the exterior scope, Zahner also manufactured interior metalwork for the department store interior entrance. This interior wall uses a similar subtle curvature made in a lightweight ZEPPS framework. This scope included the ceiling area, made in a stainless steel with standard polish.
The exterior scope included various metal details, including the soffit at the Neiman Marcus entrance and the throughout areas underneath the facade's curtain. Providing these standard details for the facade and other areas is typical of Zahner scope. The company routinely handles interior and exterior standard metalwork on a variety of projects.
Soffit systems engineered and manufactured by Zahner are the result of innovative architects, designers, and artists who challenged the norms of what to expect in the built environment. Working with Zahner to develop a custom metal soffit system begins with your design.
Designing the complex curtain system for the Neiman Marcus facade was made possible through Design Assist. Zahner worked with the architects at Elkus Manfredi to develop a design, mockup, and manufacturing process to efficiently fabricate, deliver, and install the exterior metal facade.
Building a dual-curved facade with pre-fabricated panels.
In the mid-1970’s architect Howard Elkus and his wife designed a silk dress for her to wear to a cocktail party. Three decades later Elkus, a partner at Boston’s Elkus-Manfredi Architects, drew on it for his radical design of the Natick, Massachusetts, Neiman Marcus building, completed in 2007.The building’s 570-foot-long undulating stainless steel façade, in tones of bronze, champagne and silver, “waves in and out and top to bottom almost as if someone was wearing a dress and walking,” said Elkus.