The Emporium—Where Design Brilliance is the New Black

Tetra Tech’s High Performance Buildings Group discusses the key design principles and measures taken to provide a customer-focused shopping experience at the Emporium Melbourne in Australia.

Built on the site of the old Myer Emporium in the Melbourne City Center, and tucked behind a heritage-listed façade, stands the new Emporium—a modern retail journey of desire, delight, and design excellence. This description applies as equally to the engineering concepts it incorporates as to the retail extravaganza it offers.

When completed in 2014, the finishes and services accomplished in this eight-level shopping center surpassed anything in Australia. The attention to detail in the hidden world of engineering services was of paramount importance on the project and a remarkable achievement considering the technical challenges faced.

One significant challenge included accommodating the requirements of 250 tenants, complex design demands, and the world-class aspirations of the client, Colonial First State. The brief required the full integration of services to preserve the look and feel of the center to enable customers to feel part of the overall experience.

An Integrated Communications Network (ICN) replaces traditional building systems with a reliable and robust infrastructure. This allows building systems, user systems, and tenant connectivity requirements to converge onto a single platform for uniform control monitoring and management. The ICN provides a platform whereby the asset owner can use retail analytics to better understand customer behavior and improve tenancy experience.

Lighting played a significant part in the production. Lighting solutions were specifically designed to suit the client’s requirements to create an iconic visual representation to restore the famous landmark to its original glory. Intensive daylight modelling and glare studies were undertaken for the upmarket café court area to understand exactly how much natural daylight would penetrate the main void. Fully integrated with the other services, the result is no less than a masterpiece.

A 270-square-meter (2,906-square-foot) innovative media screen on the building’s exterior—one of the largest in Australia—was created from a mesh-type product on a louver system which captures the pixels. This allowed light to penetrate the LED exterior into the eatery facilities, while panels on the north façade provide shading from the sun without blocking light.

The collaborative effort of the international design and construction team forged a seamless coordination between all parties. It facilitated the completion of all tenancy fitouts in time with the completion of the base building and ensured a customer-focused retail experience.