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Jim Terrell (1944-1989) was an architect’s architect:  during the brief span of a bright career cut short by AIDS,  Jim transformed the look and flow of major retail venues and department stores in the 1970s and 80s, including Macy’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bloomingdale’s, and Marshall Field, among others. He also designed for designers: Jim conceived of and designed the Perry Ellis “in-store” boutiques as well as the Perry Ellis showrooms, tying retail store design to some of the leading fashion trends of his time.   Because he believed that individual departments within large retail stores should be experienced as “a theater… tied together by architecture” his award-winning designs informed the aesthetics of a generation and were widely adopted internationally as well.

The principles he laid down not only transformed retail spaces, they transformed the experience of shoppers in those spaces – inviting entrances, warm lighting, visibility and mobility, in-store and dedicated designer sections, wide open interiors and grand scale in better retailers. These remain widely in use to this day, and have been adapted as technology adds to the interactivity of the in-person shopping experience.  Jim’s architectural accomplishments also went well beyond retail spaces:  he also  designed award winning corporate spaces, including the renowned Kwasha Lipton Building, featured in this portfolio.  As a consequence, Jim’s architectural designs affect millions worldwide to this day.

Jim was also exceptionally talented at drawing, and this portfolio displays original renderings of his preliminary designs, several personal sketches done for friends (such as his design for Perry Ellis’s home) and some personal sketches done while Jim was in the hospital being treated for complications from AIDS.  His look outward to the city landscape shows an appreciation of the beauty that sustained him through the AIDS epidemic and his own decline.

His family extended the impact Jim Terrell had on the public in another way: his sister, Nancy Terrell was also known to millions as “Miss Nancy” on ABC’s long running national broadcast of the first show for preschoolers, “Romper Room.”  Miss Nancy was the hostess in the 1960s and early 1970s when Romper Room was seen on ABC-owned and operated stations throughout the United States in locales that did not have their own hostesses.

Jim Terrell's Portfolios