SWS ARCHITECTS * JR CIGARS * New York In the category of New Specialty Stores (2,000 sq. ft. to 5,000 sq. ft.), SWS Architects, Livingston, N.J., was awarded the 1999 SADI for its design of JR Cigars in New York.

The SWS team faced two challenges in its design: a triangular footprint - similar to that of the Flatiron Building - and the store's requirement of a room-sized humidor. The difficult space is in the former Cocoa Exchange, a 15-story, turn-of-the-century building tucked into the narrow canyons of the Wall Street District. The spot was deemed perfect for JR Cigars' new Manhattan location.

The architects replaced the latter-day trappings of the landmark building with mahogany doors reminiscent of the building's period, as well as repaired trim and moldings in the historical colors of the era. Instead of loud, flashy signage, the store's windows are filled with digitally enlarged, transparency reproductions of cigar box artwork and labels.

The humidified environment, which had to be thermally isolated from exterior walls and windows, was an even more formidable element. The space was constructed as a curve within the triangle, leaving sitting areas and a foyer-like entrance lining the exterior walls. The arc mimics the curved exterior of the building.

To achieve the mandatory air-lock vestibule, the designers created a 9' wood revolving door. The scale of the door emphasizes the grandeur of the room that customers are about to enter.

Inside the humidor sales area, balconies lined with decorative iron railings provide views of the lounge, the humidor itself and the outdoors. Two-story wall displays of boxed cigars evoke a turn-of-the-century emporium and mimic the scale of the buildings in the neighborhood. The two-sided wood and glass cigar bar provides customer assistance, as does the cashwrap.

Though the store is enveloped by the humidified room, the lounges along the exterior walls and windows assure that the customers inside and life on the street are never too far removed and always visible to one another. The thermal barrier of the humidor is literally and physically an invisible one.

AWARD RECIPIENT SWS ARCHITECTS

Livingston, N.J.

Stephen W. Schwartz (principal); Jerry Lemega (architect)

CLIENT: JR TOBACCO, Whippany, N.J.

Product Manufacturers/Suppliers: Builders Group Contractors, New York (general contractor); Sawitz Store Fixturing, Carlstadt, N.J. (fixturing); Craftsman Woodworkers, Maspeth, N.Y. (interior storefront); Chair Masters, Bronx, N.Y. (furniture); Specfin, Ridgewood, N.J. (graphics); Watt Busters, Livingston, N.J. (lighting); Sign Field, Hillside, N.J. (signage)