OMA drops a chromatic escalator in the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship

Going Up

OMA drops a chromatic escalator in the Saks Fifth Avenue flagship

The escalator cut creates an atrium for the lower floor. (Courtesy Saks Fifth Avenue)

The ground floor of New York’s sprawling $250 million Saks Fifth Avenue flagship renovation is complete, and OMA and Rem Koolhaas have designed a splashy, technicolored centerpiece for the midtown Manhattan shop.

The luxury department store has embarked on an ambitious reorganization ahead of competitors moving into New York City; as Bloomberg notes, both Nordstrom and Neiman Marcus are opening their first N.Y.C. locations in 2019.

Photo of a department store interior
The multicolored escalator gains its luster from an iridescent dichroic film covering, which is cheaper than true dichroic glass. (Courtesy Saks Fifth Avenue)

Saks Fifth Avenue’s new ground floor is all about handbags. The previous first-floor tenants, the beauty and fine jewelry departments, have been moved upstairs. The Saks Store Planning and Design team and Gensler collaborated on the 53,000-square-foot first floor, installing custom terrazzo flooring from Italy, “experiential” handbag displays with appropriate signage, and wide, runway-inspired aisles.

The centerpiece of the new handbag department is the escalator, which changes color as shoppers ride between the lower and main floors, and up to the beauty department on the second floor. UUfie, one of the Architectural League’s 2019 Emerging Voices, also used a dichroic effect for a department store escalator, in that case Paris’s Printemps Haussmann Verticalé.

Photo of a department store interior
OMA and Gensler worked together to design the handbag stands and other interior flourishes. (Courtesy Saks Fifth Avenue)

The second and third phases of the Saks renovation—the “vault,” which will showcase high-end jewelry, and the new menswear section—are both expected to open later this year.