Whole Foods has long set a standard for supermarket design. Part of its appeal is the fact that nearly every store is unique and connects strongly to the surrounding area.
That is definitely the case with BL Companies $9.4 million design of a Whole Foods Market in Darien, Conn. The location fits right into the aesthetic of the region. Moreover, daylighting and other green design features are integrated well into the overall scheme.
There were challenges, in realizing the vision. The site is wide and narrow and bordered by a major interstate highway on one side and a residential community on the other. BL Companies strove to balance the conflicting needs of creating a visual presence from the highway with that of fitting with the residential community.
Ultimately, our judges felt that the team succeeded. In addition, the design deserves plaudits for achieving LEED Gold certification—just the fifth Whole Foods in the country to do so.
Darien is a coastal town in Connecticut with a distinct New England coastal aesthetic that is a point of pride to its residents. The design mission for the Whole Foods Market was first and foremost to achieve a contextual harmony with the community. Immediately adjacent to Interstate 95, the store becomes a representative of the community at large to all that drive by. Immediately behind the site is a residential community, which emphasizes the need for attention to the building design and scale.
In addition, the site was significantly sloped. The slope resulted in having an adjacent residential development sitting above the site and overlooking the rear façade of the building. This demanded careful consideration of the roofscape, screening of service areas and rooftop equipment, control of exhaust and odors from cooking and baking functions, and consideration of building scale in the context of a residential community.
An additional site challenge was the existence of a right-of-way providing truck access to the rear of the site for an adjacent car dealership. This required preservation of an access lane, and created further restrictions to decisions regarding site grading to relate to existing grades of the adjacent property.
Whole Foods Market
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