norman kelley remodels ‘notre’ store in chicago’s west loop

earlier this year, notre — a fashion and streetwear retail brand — re-opened its flagship location in chicago’s west loop. designed by architecture firm norman kelley, the remodeling has resulted in an increased floor area that enabled the store to dedicate space to womenswear for the first time. with the addition of a publications room housing a curated selection of books and magazines, and a stepped vestibule that functions as a meeting space or micro-auditorium, the redesign offers an unprecedented degree of flexibility that allows for cultural programming and community engagement.
all images by chris leh



notre’s flagship is located on the first floor of a building that was originally constructed in 1906, and once served as a manufacturer of tin pans for commercial bakeries. more recently, the space was a commercial art gallery that represented artists such as michael rakowitz, torkwase dyson, and jenny holzer. ‘to accommodate its layered history, notre aims to replace its warehouse-gallery origins with a domestic enfilade, or series of intimately interconnected low-ceiling rooms that accommodate varied products — clothing, footwear, publications, apothecary — and varied events — reading, lecture, transaction,’ says norman kelley, a chicago- and new orleans-based firm led by carrie norman and thomas kelley.



after entering through a 13-foot tall door, visitors are greeted with a transitional space that once functioned as a loading dock. clad with 4,645 locally-sourced brick pavers, this vestibule comprises four gentle slopes, mediated by low-rise steps, that accommodate the three-foot height difference between the sidewalk and the store itself. ‘the multi-purpose stair-ramp (or ‘stramp’) provides an accessible entry to a previously inaccessible space, as well as integrates custom furniture to transform it from circulation into a theater of 80 seats,’ the architects continue.



the store itself is withdrawn from the street, with the team seeking to create a sense of ‘retail intimacy’. throughout the store, a two-foot drop-ceiling masks the building’s heavy timber structure as well as the various mechanical systems of its past. ‘here, one-foot timber columns are sandwiched between thickened walls and open-door jambs. the resultant rooms are connected only through passing views, but otherwise separate from one other,’ explains thomas kelley and carrie norman, who founded their firm in 2012. kelley and norman were recently selected by NIKE and virgil abloh to host workshops inside the NikeLab chicago re-creation center, coverage of which can be seen on designboom here.



project info:


architect: norman kelley
client: notre
type: commercial
location: 118 north peoria st, chicago, IL
year: 2019
collaborators: isabelle reford, abigail chang, benjamin gott
general contractor: OSLO builders
millwork/furniture: navillus woodworks, -ism, jason lewis
photography: chris leh

philip stevens I designboom

aug 10, 2019