Woodland Experience for Denali’s New Location
See how the store came to life

Client Mission

Denali is committed to encouraging healthy living and outdoor experiences for individuals and families, funding community outreach programs that promote youth and family engagement in the outdoors and protecting the environment and green spaces for everyone to enjoy.


We felt we needed to up our game for the new location. Through Pirie’s visioning process we arrived at a concept that perfectly expresses our “why” and aligns with our buyers’ values and aspirations.

Project At a Glance

Denali Outdoor
Trumbull, CT
New Retail Prototype
Project Team:

General Contractor: Cornerstone Design Build Services

Structural Engineer: Jacobson Structures

MEP Engineer: CES Consulting Engineers

Photographer: John Muggenborg

Filmmaker: Jeremy White

Awards & Publications:

2017 CRMA (Connecticut Retail Merchants Association) Innovative Retailer of the Year Award

2017 AIA Connecticut Business Architecture Honor Award (Under 50 Employee Category)

2016 Real Estate Exchange CREW CT Blue Ribbon Award (Best Interior Design)


health biophiliaequity inclusivitycultural placemakingcarbon drawdown


Project Details

Denali, a retailer with stores in Connecticut and Rhode Island, sells carefully selected outdoor clothing, footwear and gear from a wide variety of the best outdoor brands. The company didn’t want its customers to feel like they were in any other store in the mall when they entered a Denali location. Instead, the retailer wanted customers to be transported to the place they love best—the great outdoors. 

Having already collaborated with the client and project team on 10 different locations over the previous 12 years, Pirie Associates saw the opportunity to throw out pre-conceptions and create a next-level environment for the new store in Westfield Trumbull Mall. The result is an authentic woodland copse that transports the customer away from the familiar shopping environment and into nature by filling the space with 16 foot, tree poles and remnants of abandoned buildings like a hiker might stumble upon in the woods. Nearly all of the finish materials, excluding paint and a limited amount of framing and wallboard, are reclaimed.


Reclaimed and Recycled

In keeping with the company’s and its customers’ respect for the environment, nearly the entire woodland setting was created from reclaimed/recycled materials. The 16-foot tree poles used along the 130-foot façade and inside the store were on their way to becoming firewood when the Denali prototype store gave another use. Reclaimed wood shipping pallettes and barn boards wereused to create merchandise shelving and the shells of the abandoned buildings. Wood wire spools, doors, trunks and barrels were repurposed as thecashiers’ desk and floor displays.


Solutions for the Unprecedented

Using tree poles in a retail store isn’t something that’s done every day, so there were no building codes or detailing precedents to follow. To ensure that our design was executed well and safely, we worked closely with the project team members in an intense collaboration effort to solve issues such as structural connections, detailing, delivery of 16 foot poles and the existing structure’s ability to support the copse. Our process centered on common vision, trust, respect and teamwork.


An Indoor Experience with Nature

The use of reclaimed/recycled materials delivers on Denali’s commitment to the environment and the communities it serves. But equally central to Denali’s mission is their customers’ connection with nature. When shopping at the Denali store at Westfield Trumbull Mall, customers often reach out and touch the trees and are delighted to find that they are real. For shoppers, this level of authenticity makes it the next best thing to being outdoors. Building on the success of the prototype store, Denali has implemented a second iteration of this design in its newest store in Old Saybrook, CT.



During a challenging and competitive economic time for brick and mortar retailers, providing elevated, unique shopping experiences is key. The transformative feeling of entering the Denali store attracts customers, which helps contribute to the overall success of the malls and shopping centers where they are located. Now, numerous landlords are reaching out to Denali, eager to incorporate such a visionary retail environment into their properties. The project was featured as a “Best Opening” in Westfield’s global corporate newsletter, followed by recognition from Westfield leadership. The results have catapulted Denali, a locally-grown retailer, to increased sales and visibility, and to the next level of recognition in the retail industry.