New York City's Bergdorf Goodman is classic upscale retailing, exuding high fashion and no-nonsense individualism throughout its seven selling floors. This glossy image, however, stopped at the sixth floor -- great clothes were showcased in a dowdy environment. An aggressive multi-floor renovation program started here.

Before: Bergdorf Goodman's dowdy sixth floor contradicted the store'supscale fashion image.

Much of the merchandise on this level is housed in separate room-like spaces that open from aisles around the building's core. Previously, customers had difficulty in orienting themselves to the store's layout, and the drabness of the design, as well as the feckless lighting, failed to lend value-added appeal to the clothes.

Architect James Harb, a New York-based specialist in store planning and design, teamed with lighting consultant Bill Schwinghammer of Johnson Schwinghammer Inc., New York, to transform the 20,000 sq. ft. selling floor into a warmly elegant, easily navigable space.

After James Harb Architects transformed Bergdorf Goodman's 20,000 sq. ft.selling floor into a warmly elegant, easily navigable space with a central gallery that forms a designer "street of shops."

They inherited a floor layout complicated by random sheet rock partitions and deadend aisles. Bergdorf's does not merchandise all over the selling floor. Apparel is shown on mannequins, with current inventory contained in wall bins.

Harb wove his design around a central gallery with rooms opening from it to form a "street of shops" for Giorgio Armani, Anne Klein, Donna Karan, Max Mara and other designer labels. The floor plan was simplified so that customers are redirected in a loop pattern, with clear sight lines.

He also opened perimeter windows to allow natural light to flow into the individual designer galleries. Entries were enlarged to twice their former size so customers now can see more merchandise from the aisles.

Schwinghammer introduced a completely different lighting palette. He emphasized Harb's flattering background colors and materials such as cherry, oak and painted lacquer.

Harb's selection of fixtures and lamps also make Bergdorf Goodman's sixth floor soft and residential in mood.