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SIMONS | architecture + interior design

McKinley Burkart's award-winning retail design and architecture for national department store, La Maison Simons. 



architecture + interior design + art consultation

Video courtesy of La Maison Simons

When La Maison Simons selected their Calgary location, they chose a heritage building located on Stephen Avenue, a busy pedestrian promenade.  Our primary architectural goal was to conserve the history of the Lancaster building and integrate it with the adjacent TD Square. We focused on simple, yet powerful strategies intended to highlight and celebrate the architectural features of the Lancaster Building.  Architecturally, our approach combines the conservation and reconstruction of the historic site, balanced with modern interventions that activate the streetscape. This strategy breathes new life into the building, sparks curiosities, and renews the city's appreciation for Calgary’s first skyscraper. 

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We activated the streetscape by weaving together multiple spaces, multiple histories.
— bao nhan, architect

A continuous ribbon weaves together old and new, peeling away at the corners to encourage fluid pedestrian movement in and around the original structure.

We incorporated drapery on all levels of the Lancaster building to create softness and intrigue from the street. This further reinforces moments of visible connection, and the veil of drapery speaks to the human scale and tactility of textiles. This is layered with a full building illumination that emphasizes the historic detailing and highlights human moments within the space.

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featured in 

azure magazine

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4 storeys

12 departments

95,000 square feet

one maison simons experience

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The interiors embody the distinct identities of the departments.
— Ashlen Thomson

Working with almost 100,000 square feet and twelve departments across four stories and two buildings posed a complex design challenge.  We wanted to create unique experiences throughout the store while maintaining a cohesive customer experience.  The clothes featured in each department and the potential shoppers who might buy them served as the primary source of inspiration for each department. 

We began by exploring the persona of the Simons shopper for each department.  We identified what might influence that particular person, be it fashion, travel, food, or pop culture.  We then embedded these references within the store through design details, custom fixtures, and art, making the departments inherently relatable to their target demographic. 

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The vertical relationships were critical to way-finding.  We found unique ways to anchor the vertical circulation.  A three-storey opening illuminated by a skylight allows shoppers to see where they might wish to shop next, and a colourful three-storey mural anchors the escalators even between floors.  

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“The McKinley Burkart process has allowed our teams to work efficiently and effectively from across the country, without compromising on inspiring design. From day one, the McKinley Burkart team made a commitment to learn the Simons philosophies, inside and out. They care so much about what’s important to us and are fantastic collaborators. And they are such a fun group – a real pleasure to work with.”
— Angela Stinson, Director of Store Development, La Maison Simons
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