Ellison Bronze doors at two distinctive Under Armour locations reinforce brand identity.
In recent years, Under Armour, Baltimore, MD (underarmour.com), began opening a series of “brand houses,” flagship stores that give customers an immersive brand experience. Brand houses are designed to project an elevated presence, with more emphasis on design, digital presentation, customized interaction between the store and its customers, and a broader selection of apparel and footwear.
To take the shopping experience to the next level, Under Armour management wanted enhanced design features that mesh with the company’s identity. As the originator of performance apparel, the company felt it only fitting that they equip their brand houses with high-performance doors.
“An Under Armour brand house is designed to represent the ‘best of the best,’” said Thomas Walsh, vice president, Global Stores Development for the company. “Customers are treated to a total immersion of our brand with the highest ideals of quality and innovation at the forefront.”
Depending on location, each brand house naturally has a different atmosphere. For example, Chicago boasts the 2016 World Series champion Cubs, while the Baltimore location sports plenty of Orioles gear. So while each brand house is unique in its own right, the Ellison Bronze, Falconer, NY (ellisonbronze.com), entrances deliver identical performance from a visitor’s first interaction with the building.
Shoppers notice the ease of operation from the initial pull on the door handle. Balanced- door technology allows users to easily operate the entry system regardless of size, weight, or material used. Heavy and robust components are no hindrance because of the inset pivot point at two-thirds the width of the door. This distributes the weight of the door leaf, resulting in reduced opening force. Unlike traditional doors, the inset fulcrum relieves external wind and internal building stack pressures at both sides of the door.
The 30,000-sq.-ft. Chicago store is in the heart of the city’s Magnificent Mile, the upscale shopping section of Michigan Avenue. The store captured top honors at the annual Design Awards of the Association of Retail Environments (A.R.E.), including the Store of the Year award and Best Specialty Store (more than 25,000-sq.-ft. in size).
The Chicago store features two single and two pair of 11-ft.-tall Ellison Bronze custom balanced doors made from extruded aluminum, and then painted. The doors and vestibule are part of a newly constructed entrance about 15 ft. into the store, allowing the location to become what Walsh calls a “bold corner” at 600 North Michigan Ave.
The “oversized” doors were a challenge made easier by Ellison’s attention to detail and overall responsiveness, according to Michael Smoucha, project manager, Glass Solutions, Inc., Elmhurst, IL (gsichicago.com). Glass Solutions handled the glazing and installation.
“Ellison set us up beautifully with very detailed instructions, specific tools to use with this installation, touch-up paint provided in advance if needed, and generally being immediately available if we had any questions,” Smoucha said. “These were enormous doors going into a repurposed space. Ellison provided excellent support when minute adjustments were necessary.”
The Chicago brand house boasts a two-level rotunda with a 65-ft.-high ceiling, large-scale images (graphics and videos), and a generally high-energy environment. It’s a modern aesthetic but supported by what Walsh calls “true materials,” such as steel and real wood, all to serve as a “backdrop to great product.”
The Baltimore brand house is a similar story. Located on South President St. in Baltimore’s Harbor East, Walsh says it’s “all about the street corner, big and bold.” The Ellison Bronze custom balanced doors (also extruded aluminum, painted) are 12-ft. tall. Walsh says they look big and powerful “but are so easy to use.”
“The Ellison doors make the shopping experience as easy as possible,” Walsh said. “When you walk up to them, they seem to say, ‘We got you covered, don’t worry about a thing.’”
The Baltimore brand house includes a 7 x 9-ft. video board, “hometown exclusives” (themed merchandise that celebrates individual city neighborhoods), and beta testing of the company’s latest merchandise.
In both locations, Baltimore and Chicago, Under Armour has had no issues with the doors and Walsh said, “they always provide optimum performance.”
An Ellison aluminum door is constructed from heavy wall extrusions that are made solely for the company and specifically designed to work in conjunction with their balanced hardware system. The door leaf’s horizontal top and bottom rails are attached to the vertical stiles using welded and bolted connections, yielding a durable and long-lasting entrance.
Ellison provides detailed record keeping and full warranties. Every door made is imprinted with an individual project number (similar to that of a car’s VIN number) to facilitate easy tracking and maintenance. All balanced hardware components are machined in-house, which means that replacement components are readily available.
The brand houses have strong interior design elements that make them what they are— an extension of Under Armour that offers customers a captivating brand experience. The Ellison doors parallel Under Armour themes by capturing strength, style, and performance—built to last longer than your typical commercial entryway.
Even with the advent of such impressive brand houses, Under Armour executives still believe in having a balanced portfolio of store building types. When the brand houses can look as impressive as the Chicago and Baltimore locations, the company knew that they must take into consideration all aspects of building design, starting with the entrance doors.