Sky high: SOM creates a crystal tower fit for Baccarat in New York

Sky high: SOM creates a crystal tower fit for Baccarat in New York

American architects SOM have designed the latest piece in Baccarat’s growing collection of works of art - probably the largest addition yet. The project is a two-tone tower in New York City that embodies the elegance and artistry of the 250-year old crystal manufacturer. ’Baccarat is equally well known for their product and distinctive packaging,’ explains SOM design partner Gary Haney. ’Our approach to the design was to create an elegant, timeless and urban ’wrapper’ for the luxury within.’

Located in one of the city’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, this 650-foot ’urban wrapper’ stands gracefully over Edward Durrell Stone’s iconic MoMA building, a fact the architects were careful not to ignore. The opaque, jet-black aluminium east and west facades provide a striking contrast to the crystal-clear north and south elevation and as Gary Haney explains, ’the black faceted panels reference the minimalism of the neighbouring MoMA building.’

True to the legacy of the crystal-makers, the skyscraper is no less eye-catching at street level. The building sits atop a glistening podium, clad in vertical glass fins. The result is a dynamic structure, akin to the cut-glass surface of a Baccarat crystal dish. The multi-faceted effect is continued across the building with the angled positioning of the jet black aluminium panelling. 

The building is composed of three separate elements, which gradually push the boundaries from public to private. A branch of the New York Public Library, designed by Enrique Norten and Ten Arquitectos and set to open later this year is situated at the base of the tower. 114 lush hotel suites are housed in the structure’s sturdy lower half and sixty luxury condominiums can be found in the building’s slim upper segment. The residential part’s key asset - the stunning views framed by the generous floor-to-ceiling windows - fittingly played host to our Air Force menswear fashion shoot in the landmark 200th issue of Wallpaper*. 

The interiors of both the hotel and residences, designed by Gilles & Boissier and Ingrao Inc. respectively have been carefully crafted to express the French brand’s modern opulence - a perfect match for our sharp menswear tailoring November issue story. Meanwhile, this multitasking tower also hosts a bar, restaurant, salon and spa to be enjoyed by guests and residents alike.

The real success of the building lies in its material simplicity. SOM has captured the essence of the Baccarat brand by letting the beauty of the glass speak for itself. The dynamic play of light and shadow transforms the building into a city-sized crystal chandelier, rendering any further ornamentation superfluous. By working with a range of designers, SOM has succeeded in creating a diverse yet harmonious building, turning a crystal and its packaging into a tower fit for the New York skyline.     

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