REX provides a fresh face in New York

12 Feb 2014

Pleated facade to enshroud 1969 building by Davis Brody in Manhattan, solving issues of sustainability and aesthetic appeal

This week, Brookfield Office Properties and architecture firm REX have unveiled the latest component in the $200m Manhattan West development. The scheme involves the recladding and interior renovation of the 1.8million sq ft 450 West 33rd Street building in New York (to be rebranded Five Manhattan West) originally designed by Davis Brody (now Davis Brody Bond) in 1969.

Over the years, the Brutalist tower of precast concrete fill-in panels and integrated windows has had its external structural elements painted beige and its fill-in wall panels clad in brown metal siding. With modern developments rising on either side - Manhattan West to the east and Hudson Yards to the west - Brookfield Office Properties has stepped in to reimagine the building and bring it up to scratch with its neighbours.

Five Manhattan West will provide generous Class A office facilities for commercial clients, as one of only eight office buildings in Manhattan to offer more than 100,000 sq ft of contiguous space on a single floor. At this point in time, the slope on the majority of perimeter walls does not meet current building standards meaning that it is not possible to lease the space.

REX were challenged with modernising the building façade and bringing the property up to scratch with current sustainability standards. To do so, the team has posed a pleated façade which overcomes the existing issues of un-leasable space and provides enhanced daylighting into the offices.

By incorporating floor-to-ceiling windows, REX has improved both energy performance and visual appeal while minimising the cost of the façade as the pleats never exceed 15 degrees from vertical, allowing the system to utilise a monolithic IGU solution.

The over-slung panes of glass are partially opacified, reducing direct solar gain from high angle sun. The under-slung panes in turn receive much lower solar heat gain, since they present an oblique angle to the sun and are ‘self-shaded’ from the over-slung panes. Cooling loads and glare are reduced with the decrease in direct sun.

“We believe that maximising the potential of our urban cores’ existing vitality and infrastructure must be the basis for any definition of sustainability,” commented Joshua Prince-Ramus, Principal at REX. “We are therefore thrilled to be involved with the repositioning of this significant, 44-year-old Manhattan landmark adjacent to Penn Station and at the heart of several major developments in Midtown.”

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