Retail Traffic

Driving Design into the 21st Century

Despite scores of successful projects under his belt, a 37-year veteran of the design industry predicts a project on the verge of completion will be his best ever.

"Macy's at Union Square (San Francisco) is an all-glass building, so you could actually look from the Square inside the store," says Rudy Javosky, senior vice president of design, planning and construction for Cincinnati-based Federated Department Stores Inc. "Traditionally, department stores have been building structures that are closed in. We've made the decision that we want natural light in stores. I've always felt that customers who are within the store want to be able to orientate themselves, to be able to look outside and understand where they are. We've been successful at doing that at Union Square."

The three lower levels of the seven-floor Macy's, as well as the outside construction, are already finished. The remainder is slated for an August completion.

Getting a store to the point of completion is often Javosky's biggest challenge. In his position, Javosky manages a staff of 150 people who are responsible for overseeing the entire process of design, planning and construction of all divisions of Federated Stores.

"In store planning and design, when you manage the process, the ability to execute a project in a timely fashion is very important," Javosky says. "The biggest challenge is keeping everybody on track and focused to meet the end objective, which is the opening date or the completion of the project. The reality of the situation is that people expect that store to open on time."

Javosky attributes his success in overseeing store design, whether it be a project done internally or through outside consultants, to an understanding of the process and an ability to think in a logical sequence.

"That's created a great deal of positiveness in terms of my dealing with people, in order to enable them to achieve what they want," he says.

While the process may have remained consistent, the design of stores has changed greatly over the past five or six years, Javosky says, pointing to a retail revolution just on the horizon.

"We're at the leading edge of some really dramatic changes in the electronic world, and that's going to have a profound impact," he says. "We (Federated) are investing pretty heavily in Internet shopping. I think that if anybody ignores the impact of Internet shopping in the coming years, they'll be sorry they did. It is the wave of the future."

Javosky predicts that consumers will become comfortable with online purchasing of basic items such as fragrances, T-shirts or underwear, but there are certain items they will want to touch and feel in the store. "There's going to be room for both sides," he says.

So how does technology affect store design? Checkout operations may change, as shoppers might be able to scan their own purchases and swipe a credit card. Also, department stores may downsize, Javosky says,as more merchandise is available on the Internet. In addition, department stores may bring in more services, which they have drifted away from in recent years.

With all of the changes occurring in the industry, Javosky hopes Federated will be one of the leaders in department store design.

"In the coming years, with the projects we are working on now, we will see a dramatic change in the way Federated operates its department stores and the designs of its department stores," he says. "We are on a big drive to look at new ways to format and operate our department stores."

The seasoned designer expresses personal zeal for his profession. "When you really like what you do, when you're excited about it and have an understanding about it, you tend to make good decisions."

Although Javosky spends less time designing now that he is in a management position, he says he loves the design process - and jokes that most of his design time is spent on projects at home for his wife.

* Favorite retail projects

Bloomingdale's, Huntington, N.Y., and San Francisco; Macy's at Union Square, San Francisco; Lazarus, downtown Pittsburgh.

* Favorite retail store

Crate & Barrel: "They've opened up the merchandise to the street, allowing the customer on the street to see inside the store, and allowing the customer inside the store to see outside to the street. Not only is it visually exciting but it really accommodates the customer. It's an exciting store to go into, and I spend a lot of time studying how they do it."

* Most admired industry figures

Sir Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Frank Gehry and Andree Putman.

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