Most innovative commercial retrofit project

15 Union Square West, Saint-Gobain Glass

The original Tiffany & Co. building at 15 Union Square West in New York City featured a cast iron and stone clad façade. When architects Perkins Eastman, New York, set out to renovate the building, designers stripped off the old cladding and replaced it with a state-of-the-art curtain-wall system, says Roger Watson, vice president of sales and marketing, Saint-Gobain Glass, France. Eckelt Glas Gmbh, Austria, part of the XXLGlass Group, a subsidiary of Saint-Gobain Glass Solutions, fabricated the glass.

“The building had cast iron arches as part of the structure,” Watson says. “These arches were exposed when the most recent renovation took place, and the architects decided to incorporate them as a feature. The main problem was that some of the floors spanned 21 feet. This was a challenge to achieve a full-height glazing unit that would not break down the marvelous arched features of the apartments inside.” To accommodate the original high ceilings, the glass company supplied oversized glass lites, up to 19 feet high.

The project team also faced challenges adapting the system to accommodate all of the individual field-verified sizes. The building features more than 700 different sized insulating glass units.

“The whole building was to have made to-measure pieces all over the facade. It was not until a complete survey of the building was completed that the glass could even be ordered and produced—almost every single piece of glass on the building is a unique size to fit a unique aperture in the façade,” Watson says.

To ensure clarity of view for the occupants, the architects chose Diamant low-iron glass for both inner and outer panes, with a neutral gray low-emissivity coating on the No. 2 surface. Brack Capital, Amsterdam, was the general contractor. J&R Glassworks, Yonkers, N.Y., was the glazing contractor.