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Ma Specialfeaturesmoothmetalwallpanel  Jul15 1

Smooth metal skin produces shimmering tower facade


Photo: Mark Kempf Photography, St. Louis

The flagship of the latest luxury hotel brand from Starwood Capital Group, Greenwich, Conn., the newly opened Baccarat Hotel & Residences is a 605-foot-tall, mixed-use building located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street in New York City. New York City-based Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) LLP architects were tasked with designing a destination that embodied the elegance and artistry of Baccarat, the luxury crystal brand founded by King Louis XV of France more than 250 years ago.

The architects focused on the concept of an elegant crystalline box when designing the glimmering metal-and-glass tower as a showcase for the Baccarat brand's "distinct art of gracious living." They clad the tower with an articulated shimmering glass-and-metal skin to evoke Baccarat Crystal's long history in the decorative arts like a honed piece of the firm's exquisite glassware.

The 347,000-square-foot, 50-story structure contains three distinct programmatic elements stacked vertically above one another: a public library, a ninestory luxury hotel within the tower's podium, and 60 condominiums, which range in size from one to four bedrooms and include three-bedroom duplexes and a five-bedroom duplex penthouse. Floor-to-ceiling glass provides abundant natural light. The New York Public Library branch, designed by New York City-based Ten Arquitectos, is housed within the building's base.

On tower's exterior is a study in contrast. The eastern and western elevations-primary structural elements of the tower-are sheathed in faceted, jet-black Reynobond aluminum composite material (ACM) from Alcoa Architectural Products, Norcross, Ga. These solid surfaces frame the reflective northern and southern façades, clad in shimmering glass. Metal panels were selected for the eastern and western sheer walls to express the faceted design of the façade, which dynamically reflects sunlight throughout the day.

"Reynobond ACM was specified for its ability to be easily shaped, bent or folded, to create the custom faceted form we desired; the metal panels of the façade include both flat and folded units," says Benjamin D. Reich, AIA, associate at SOM. "The black metallic finish on the panels helps to accentuate the depth of these façades and provide a complement to the reflective glass of the tower façade, evoking the Baccarat brand."

IDA International Inc., Derby, Conn., served as the project's metal installer, designing, engineering and installing 110,000 square feet of 4-mm Reynobond ACM with a fire-resistant (FR) core finished in a custom Black Metallic Colorweld 500 XL coating on the tower's eastern and western faces. "This included the base, the top row and coping over the curtainwall on the north and south faces, loading dock and bulkhead, as well as on four stories on the face of an adjacent building," says Norman Harbinson president of IDA International. "The faceted design impacted every stage of the project-from fabrication to shipping and installation. In some areas the framing to support the panels was more than 10 inches deep, requiring gusseted steel brackets and tapered framing."

Photo: Mark Kempf Photography, St. Louis

The aluminum composite panels were suspended from galvanized steel framing members and clad a 2-foot-thick concrete sheer wall. "Installation of the tapered framing that had to accommodate a concrete variance of over 5 inches (+2.5 inches/-2.5 inches) was complex," says Harbinson. "We had to do this while maintaining proper anchor embedment and correct framing location. Templates for these framing members had to be used with specific registration points to allow for accurate framing installation. However once the panel framing was located, the panel installation itself was fairly straightforward."

The panels and framing were installed via hanging scaffold, and had to be brought to specific floors and passed out through windows. Coordination of hoist time, along with delivery schedules to a single loading dock, was also a challenge. R.A. Heintges & Associates, New York City, acted as the exterior wall consultant.

"Baccarat proved to be one of the more logistically challenging projects of my career, given its location directly across from MoMA and within close proximity to several other high-profile buildings," says Michael Badame, senior project manager, Tishman Construction, an AECOM company, New York City, the project's general contractor. "Thanks to a tremendous owner, articulate design team and responsive contractors, all of us at Tishman felt a great sense of accomplishment when the hotel opened in April 2015."

Photo: Mark Kempf Photography, St. Louis

The 2015 Metal Architecture Award judges admired the project, saying it was "fabulously executed with a straightforward concept that represents everything the category represents." On its façade, they cited its "3-D quality that creates depth without having to rely on joinery or patterning, with very clean lines that make for a very holistic approach to the detailing."

Sidebar: Baccarat Hotel & Residences, New York City

Completed: March 2015
Building owner: Starwood Capital Group, Greenwich, Conn.,
Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP, New York City,
Exterior wall consultant: R.A. Heintges & Associates, New York City,
General contractor: Tishman Construction, an AECOM company, New York City,
Metal installer: IDA International, Derby, Conn.,
Aluminum composite material: Reynobond by Alcoa Architectural Products, Eastman, Ga.,