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Since its opening in 1902, the iconic Macy’s Herald Square has stood as a Manhattan landmark at 34th and Broadway, a representation of both New York’s style and its grandiose vision. Over the course of time, a series of additions expanded the retail store to the 2.2 million square feet that it is today, occupying a full city block and welcoming more than 6 million customers through its doors annually.

In 2012—with the goals of improving customers’ ability to navigate the massive store and modernizing the interior aesthetics, the leadership of Macy’s Herald Square embarked on a $400 million overhaul, the largest such project in the U.S. in 2012 and one that would ultimately take nearly four years to complete. Architectural and interior design firm Charles Sparks + Company was among the companies retained to accomplish the massive renovations.

A pivotal aspect of the store’s comprehensive modernization was the specification of surfacing materials for walls, as well as ceilings. According to Cynthia Passarelli, senior designer with Charles Sparks + Company, it was vital that materials selected provide visual aid for in-store navigation and support the updated style, while also answering the technical requirements the space demands.

“The materials had to be able to withstand high levels of wear and tear,” Passarelli states.

These specification standards were notably important for the elevator banks, as they’re key to the establishment of the aesthetic identity and provision of store path. For those areas, Passarelli looked to deliver a durable and monolithic material ready for the high volume of traffic.

“Macy’s Herald Square is comprised of multiple buildings/floors. Our original conceptual design included the use of portals made of durable materials to help aid customers in recognizing they have crossed into a different category within the store—an unconscious exit/entrance within a space,” Passerelli explains.

With its chic, monolithic looks and hard-wearing profile, Laminam porcelain tile panels proved to be ideal design solutions for wall and ceiling use within the store.

Charles Sparks, owner of the A&D firm, had first seen Laminam products years ago at the Euroshop trade show and was intrigued by the sight of a salesperson standing on top of a piece of the material to demonstrate how strong it was. Sparks recognized this as a great architectural material, as large formats work so well for modern design. Though at the time, these products were being featured for use on on buildings’ exterior facades, Sparks and his team were interested in exploring interior applications. When the Macy’s project launched, they turned to Laminam to find the options they needed.

To frame the 63,000 square foot women’s shoe department, Passarelli used Laminam porcelain tile panels from the Oxide collection in the dramatic Nero color way. The generously proportioned tile panels create a wide stripe over the entrance, extending the material down the side walls to create a visual transition into the space. The effect is sophisticated and clearly demarcates the shoe department from surrounding spaces.

Laminam porcelain tile panels from the Filo collection provide similar transition near the men’s department elevators. The strikingly large pieces work well to visually guide shoppers while also providing the durability the spaces demand.

Having now worked with the material extensively, Passarelli identifies the many ways in which Laminam by Crossville collections can enhance retail environments.

She mentions its use in corridors visible to customers, restrooms, heavy duty freight elevator surrounds, large runway or platform fixtures, cash wraps, as well as on exteriors.

Following its specification at Macy’s Herald Square, Laminam by Crossville is now being embraced as part of the Macy’s interior style, used in multiple store locations throughout the U.S.. In addition, the material is being considered for installation in international outposts of the retail giant.