New Yorkers love their nostalgia. And Balducci's, started in Brooklyn in 1916 and relocated to Greenwich Village in 1946, qualifies as a New York tradition. It became renowned for its presentation and exotic delicacies before the term "foodie" even existed.
It's quite fitting that the latest incarnation of Balducci's is a re-gilding of its past self, even to its swank new location, a landmarked New York Savings Bank building. The store's architecture reinforces the impression that Balducci's now means to position itself as a jewel-box Whole Foods.
Curved refrigerated and spritzer-rigged stainless-steel produce stands are illuminated by micro halogens so that the purple artichokes and orange bell peppers take on saturated jewel-like hues. The vaulted plaster ceiling, the more than 40-foot-high dome and the stained-glass windows are delightfully atypical trappings for a grocery shopping experience.
Concessions to present tastes and changing food laws are inevitable. So no longer can sausages hang over counters. But architect and designer Hugh Boyd created open refrigerated cabinets that would allow the sausages to be accessible to the public. Built out over what had previously been back offices of the bank is a 60-seat area where people can enjoy their food - and free wi-fi. Food retailing is no longer only about the food.
Client: Balducci's, New York
Design: Hugh A. Boyd Architects, Montclair, N.J.
Architect: Steven B. Rabinoff Architect, Flushing, N.Y.
General Contractor: IBEX Construction, New York
Outside Design Consultant: The Lighting Practice, Philadelphia
Fixtures: Artisan Display, Red Hill, Pa.
Commercial Stainless, Bloomsburg, Pa.
Randell, Weidman, Mich.
Southern Store Fixtures, Bessemer, Ala.
Flooring: Specialty Flooring Systems, S. Amboy, N.J.
Lighting: RSA Lighting, Chatsworth, Calif.
Rambusch Lighting, Jersey City, N.J.
Photography: Courtesy of Southern Store Fixtures, Bessemer, Ala.