Restoration Hardware opens new flagship store
In creating the new Restoration Hardware store at 234 Berkeley St. — officially called The Gallery at The Historic Museum of Natural History — the architects stripped back decades of structural modifications, such as auxiliary mezzanine levels and pedestrian elevators, to open up the 40,000 square foot, making the original vaulted ceiling visible from 70 feet below. It’s a dramatic two-year transformation of the historic landmark that is intended to bring a new type of retail experience to the Back Bay.
Restoration Hardware (now branded as simply RH) opens its new store on March 7, but the Boston Globe got a sneak peek into the completely redone building.
Honoring the past
The focal point of the central atrium is a traction and counterweight elevator, with its steel-caged glass cab inspired by the iconic model in the Bradbury Building in Los Angeles.
Plenty of lights
The redesigned space has more than 150 chandeliers. Restoration Hardware worked with award-winning lighting designer, Ross De Alessi, to illuminate the historic building. The application of different light sources — 90 percent of which are LED — dramatically represent the exterior architecture at night and operate on a dimming system to balance the visual effect and conserve energy.
A creative collaboration
The Gallery at The Historic Museum of Natural History represents the latest and most complex collaboration between RH creator and curator Gary Friedman and design architect James Gillam of Backen, Gillam & Kroeger Architects, a firm that was selected for the Architectural Digest list of the World’s Top 100 Architects and Designers and is led by noted architect, Howard Backen.
Part store/part museum
In addition to serving as a showcase for Restoration Hardware’s products, the new store will also house a number of museum-quality pieces that are not for sale.
A source of inspiration
Four “Clubrooms’’ are located on the third floor, including the Library pictured above, which is filled with vintage books and $1195 Camino Chandeliers
Take a ride
Soaring three floors, the elevator’s steel-caged glass cab highlights the interior’s now unobstructed vertical openness and dramatic architecture.
Largest design gallery
The Boston site, once home to the New England Museum of Natural History and more recently the luxury goods purveyor LouisBoston, is the largest and most significant design gallery RH has opened to date with more than 7,000 items, including merchandise from the first Baby & Child collection on the East Coast
The entire building is brimming with French influence — maps of Paris, Provence furniture collections, along with 18-foot antique mirrored archways on the second floor that reflect 12 sparkling crystal chandeliers reminiscent of the Palace of Versailles.
The Eiffel Tower comes to Boston
Stepping out of the elevator on level three to sound of trickling fountains, you enter the Indoor Conservatory and Park with reproduction heritage olive trees, a 24-foot illuminated steel Eiffel Tower discovered at the Paris flea market, and the first Ma(i)sonry Napa Valley wine bar outside of its original Yountville, Calif., location.