Located on the corner of Fifth Avenue and 53rd Street in New York City, the Baccarat Hotel & Residences is the flagship of the latest luxury hotel brand from Starwood Capital Group. The new 605-foot-tall, mixed-use building was designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) LLP and features on its exterior Reynobond®aluminum composite material (ACM) from Alcoa Architectural Products.
In designing the new building, SOM was tasked with creating a destination hotel 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, illustrative of Baccarat brand’s “distinct art of gracious living.” The tower is clad with an articulated shimmering metal skin and glass to evoke Baccarat Crystal’s long history in the decorative arts, honed as if a piece of the firm’s exquisite glassware.
Baccarat Hotel & Residences command outstanding views of Manhattan landmarks including Central Park, the Empire State Building and its neighbor, the Museum of Modern Art. The 347,000-square-foot, 50-story structure contains three distinct programmatic elements that are stacked vertically above one another: a public library located on the ground floor and one level below, a nine-story 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.
The exterior of the tower is a study in contrast. The eastern and western elevations––the main structural elements of the tower––are sheathed in faceted, jet-black Reynobond (ACM). The material's solid, matte 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, shimmering design of the façade, which dynamically reflects sunlight throughout the day.
Reynobond ACM was specified for its light weight, high strength-to-weight ratio and ability to be easily shaped––bent or folded––to create the custom faceted form desired; the metal panels of the façade include both flat and folded units. The slight angle from panel to panel is only six inches deep, but looks deeper, exaggerated by the deep black metallic flake paint finish. The faceted metal panels take on the properties of the sky, their shimmering black metallic surfaces providing a complement to the reflective glass of the tower façade, evoking the Baccarat brand.
IDA International Inc. designed, engineered and installed 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 eastern and western faces of the tower, including the base, the top row and coping over the curtain wall on the north and south faces, loading dock and bulkhead, as well as on four stories on the face of an adjacent building. 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 ten inches deep, requiring gusseted steel brackets and tapered framing.
The aluminum composite panels were suspended from galvanized steel framing members and clad a two-foot-thick concrete sheer wall. “Installation of the tapered framing that had to accommodate a concrete variance of over five inches (+2.5 inches/-2.5 inches) was complex, said Norman Harbison vice president of IDA International Inc. “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.”
A rainscreen system was specified for the installation to further enhance the crisp, clean aesthetic of the design. The panels were installed via hanging scaffold. The framing and panels 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.
Baccarat Hotel & Residences building houses 114 luxurious guestrooms and suites, and 60 private residences. Both guests and residents have access to the Bar, Grand Salon, Chevalier Restaurant and spa located in the tower’s podium. Floor-to-ceiling glass provides abundant natural light. A branch of the New York Public Library, with its own entrance, is housed within the building’s base.
Reynobond® and Colorweld® are registered trademarks of Alcoa, Inc.
Photos by Mark Kempf Photography, St. Louis, Missouri