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Publicis Drugstore, 133 Avenue des Champs Élysées, Paris, France

Issue 81 October / November 2014 : Retail : Store

Lighting Design: ECA2 Architect: Michele Saee MICHELE SAEE

A new LED layer by ECA2 adds an extra element to the curved glass façade of the Publicis Drugstore on Paris’s famous Champs Elysées.

In July this year, the Publicis Group unveiled a new façade of their headquarters at 133 Avenue des Champs Elysées, a transformation of the existing swirling glass planes into a semi transparent screen of LED pixels.

Sitting at the edge of the Étoile roundabout - home to the Arc de Triomphe – the building has a long history of groundbreaking evolution.

Marcel Bleustein-Blanchet, founder of the Publicis advertising agency, set up his offices in the former location of the Astoria hotel built in 1900 at the top of the Champs Elysées. In 1958 he opened the first European drugstore on the ground floor.The Publicis Drugstore – a bar, restaurant, cinema, shop, newsstand, tobacco shop and pharmacy that stayed “open all night” - revolutionised Parisian life.

The Publicis Drugstore building was totally destroyed by fire in 1972 and, soon after, replaced by a simple, modern structure.

In 2004, Californian architect Michele Saee transformed the Publicis Drugstore in collaboration with ECA2, an agency within the Publicis Group, by installing 153 curved glass panels onto the old façade. In 2014, this evolved further with the introduction of 17,000 LEDs across the 800m2 of glass panels.

The installation – the addition of a technological layer to an already complex architectural structure -  was fraught with challenges. 24 months of research, designs and preparation went into the creation of the façade. 20 rope access technicians were required to position the LEDs in a perfect grid pattern behind the glass.

To fit each convex curve of the 153 glass sheets, ECA2 had to design a unique fixture, one that would meet the constraints of the site: to respect the spirit of the existing structure, the identity of the Champs Elysées and nearby Arc de Triomphe, and be mindful of the employees working the windows of the building. In addition, the project conforms to a strict environmental charter; each pixel only consumes one watt per hour, which at full capacity is 17 kilowatts for the entire building.


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