May 13, 2022

Layers of light replicate ice and flowing motion at the NHL Store

By Michele Zimmerman

Hockey fans might just feel like slipping on their skates when they step into the barn of the National Hockey League (NHL) Store in Manhattan, which captures the look of the ice and the feel of the game. Though the flagship store is in New York City, it is a safe space for fans of teams beyond the New York Rangers and Islanders; patrons can peruse hockey-themed merchandise from across the league and enjoy multiple floors with a bright window display, an illuminated logo wall, highlighted historic jerseys, photographs and other paraphernalia all while feeling like they are in the rink. Linear lighting elements and a three-part design approach by Cooley Monato Studio in conjunction with architectural concepts by TPG Architecture evoke the chill and color of ice, as well as the speedy, fluid movement of the NHL players.

The game plan for the lighting design began in August 2019, setting the store up for an original face-off time of October 2020. However, the all-LED project didn’t open to guests until September 2021 after COVID-19 caused a nearly year-long intermission. Since opening, it has welcomed thousands of hockey fanatics and was included as a stop in the 2021 “[email protected]” talk-tour coproduced by the IESNYC as part of Open House New York Weekend.

Senior Designer Aditi Govil of Cooley Monato Studio breaks down the lighting design approach into three layers: “envelope, task and feature. The envelope [layer] is the overall environment and perimeter which is achieved via the soft glow of the linear fixtures and wide spread of accent lights aimed at walls and perimeter features. The task layer highlights merchandise through narrow beam-spread track fixtures in the ceiling and integral lighting in display units,” she continues. “In-ground diffused-lens floor lights—like glowing hockey pucks—define paths and lead customers through the store and to the connecting stairs.” And finally, the feature layer “consists of decorative pendants and RGBW elements with special displays.” 

Designers applied a CCT of 3500K for the envelope layer, or the overall project space, for a chilly, frozen feel. A more neutral CCT of 3000K was selected for merchandise accent lighting “to better highlight a full range of team colors and to complement skin tones,” says Govil.

A segue from the task layer into the feature layer is the internally lit staircase—an exhibition on its own—holding decorative displays that pay homage to historic players. “The main stair feature was illuminated with a 5000K CCT linear grazer to exaggerate iconic jerseys captured in resin, representing ‘ice.’ The jerseys were front-lit using 4000K accents to make the whites look crisper.”

The stair presented an exciting opportunity for designers to create something that was structurally functional and scored a visual goal with retailers and customers alike. “We wanted to create ‘ice’ wherever it felt appropriate. To get the resin to glow we went through multiple rounds of mock-ups experimenting with different types of linear fixtures (with optics vs. without optics) with different color temperatures. This concept extended to the stair rail [in which we] needed to consider [both] a customer’s visual comfort as well as some tricky geometry to form continuous lines,” says Govil.

Ease of maintenance paired with flexibility is a design trend Cooley Monato has seen in recent retail projects, and the flagship required the same kind of strategy. Especially in feature displays, designers implemented uniform lighting concentrated onto display areas, but not onto circulation zones to allow for the “flexibility [of] moving displays without having to re-aim the lighting.”

Though varying ceiling heights proved to be a worthy opponent, designers threw down their gloves and put up a fight. Ceiling heights and conditions widely ranged from 20 ft to 8-1/2 ft with both exposed and dropped finishes. Govil says, “When dealing with such drastic changes in ceiling heights we worked with various fixture outputs and beam angles to properly light the merchandise. We [also] went through a rigorous value engineering process which required fixture re-specification and complete redesign of some lighting details—which were successfully accomplished without compromising the integrity of the design.”

Whether guests are there for the merch, the sports history, or simply the love of the puck, the lighting of the NHL Store creates an experience that is sure to have everyone feeling nostalgic for their hometown teams, the smell of the rink and a chill in the air.


Aditi Govil is senior designer with Cooley Monato Studio.
Emily Monato is founding principal of Cooley Monato Studio.
Weiliang Wang was formerly a designer with Cooley Monato Studio.


Michele Zimmerman

Michele Zimmerman

Michele Zimmerman is the Assistant Editor and Digital Content Coordinator for LD+A... More info »