In New York City, especially in prime locations such as Times Square, 5th Avenue or Madison Avenue, retailers are vying to be noticed. More importantly, they are looking to make a statement about their brand presence. One way to do this is to make the exterior of their flagship locations stand out.
There’s no better way to do this than using transparent structural glass systems in architecture to allow patrons to notice you from afar and then lure them inside. Whether it be elegant luxury such as Baccarat crystal, technology-rich products from Microsoft, trendy outerwear from UNIQLO, or to reinforce a brand promise of fashion and quality at an affordable price from H&M fashions, retailers are setting new standards in flagship design. These four diverse brands needed to make a statement in their Manhattan market locations, so they called on the experts at W&W Glass for their structural glass needs.
Baccarat Retail Store
Just the mention of Baccarat fills the mind with luxurious accessories made of high quality, elegant crystal. The store’s distinctive design concept was a new global retail model for the brand, showcasing tableware, lighting, decorative objects, and jewelry to reflect the richness of the Baccarat lifestyle and the brand’s commitment to innovation and excellence. Located at 635 Madison Avenue at 60th Street, Baccarat’s new retail location is 2,800-square-feet, designed by acclaimed architect Rafael de Cárdenas with local project support from Gensler. It was built just in time to celebrate the iconic French crystal house’s commitment to artisanship and innovation ahead of the brand’s 250th anniversary. When the project architect, Gensler, went about implementing the Baccarat vision created with de Cárdenas, they chose W&W Glass. The store’s double-height façade features a custom digitally-printed, white fritted glass pattern inspired by the Baccarat’s renowned crystal diamond cut, showcasing the brand’s French heritage. W&W Glass installed an ultra-clear Optiwhite low-iron Pilkington Planar™ structural glass fin wall system for the vertical wall with the white ceramic frit pattern expression laminated inside the face glass.
The store’s distinctive design features individual spaces to showcase Baccarat’s three main product categories: jewelry, home décor, and lighting. The stores outward appearance is only further enhanced as Baccarat’s iconic lighting takes center stage. The dark-yet-reflective surface of the silver-black plaster walls with black lacquer insets contrasts with the bright light emanating from Baccarat’s table lamps, floor lamps, sconces, and chandeliers.
H&M Times Square
With 13 locations in Manhattan alone, H&M (Hennes & Mauritz AB) is well-known in the New York market. It was founded in Sweden in 1947 and the company’s business concept is to offer fashion and quality at the best price. This store is located at 4 Times Square. NYC has the largest concentration of H&M stores in the country, employing over 1,400 people. The approximately 42,000-square-foot location offers collections for ladies, men, young ladies/men and children, with separate “shop in shop” areas for accessories, lingerie, sports apparel, maternity and the brand’s plus-size line, H&M+.
The primary architect was Jeffrey Taylor of Taylor Architects. Being a veteran designer for the retail industry, Mr. Taylor quickly understood that a location in Times Square presented a unique opportunity and set of challenges. As one of the busiest places in the country, crowded with discerning shoppers, Taylor knew the visual impact of the building was critical to its success. He decided to work with W&W Glass and the Pilkington Planar™ system to help enhance H&M’s brand of quality merchandise to stand out from the crowd. The glazing experts decided to use Optiwhite low-iron insulating glass units for the face glass of the vertical walls connected back to Optiwhite low-iron monolithic structural glass fins with Pilkington’s 905 series countersunk fittings.
This dynamic store embraces modern technology with a digital runway; a virtual catwalk projecting images of guests onto exterior screens that brighten the backdrop of the city that never sleeps. This unique content can also be accessed in real-time through the customers’ social media platforms. The store interior features other digital components such as LED screens, a charging station equipped with iPads, interactive mannequins and much more. Fluorescent fixtures and geometric metal installations further complement the futuristic, tech-savvy store design.
Active apparel that is “made for all” is the mantra of UNIQLO. Uniqlo Co., Ltd. is a Japanese casual wear designer, manufacturer, retailer, and has been a wholly owned subsidiary of Fast Retailing Co., Ltd. since November 2005. As a Japanese company, breaking into the crowded American market is no small chore. The management knew that a vibrant and progressive New York/Manhattan-based retail location was a key to their brand’s acceptance and growth.
Photo Credit: www.cameronrneilson.com
The architects at Gensler created a timeless design with a modern look for the company’s flagship store at 666 5th Avenue. With over 89,000 square feet of shopping space, this UNIQLO store is the biggest retail location on New York City’s famed 5th Avenue and the largest UNIQLO store in the world. The impressive space features 100 dressing rooms and 50 cash registers, that help keep wait time to a minimum. UNIQLO offers high quality, stylish basics for men, women, and children.
UNIQLO is part of the changing face of Fifth Avenue. It’s no coincidence that Apple’s and Microsoft’s landmark stores are also on the same stretch of 5th Avenue. The prime property draws massive crowds throughout the year, eager to spend money. Previously the exclusive home of many of the world’s top luxury brands, like Cartier and Prada, this neighborhood is now the hub of more mainstream clothing brands like H&M, Hollister, Forever 21, and Abercrombie & Fitch that have moved in.
This intense competition meant that UNIQLO had to stand out from the rest. Gensler went to a trusted expert in the glass business in W&W Glass to help make that statement. The facade was designed to be very transparent, allowing a clear and uninterrupted view to the interior of the store and products inside. It utilized Pilkington Planar™ Optiwhite low-iron insulating glass units with HP 73/42 Low-e on the #2 surface anchored to Optiwhite low-iron structural glass fins with Pilkington 905 series fittings. Besides a clean and modern look, the Pilkington Planar™ structural glass system increased visibility while providing a more inviting entrance at the corner of Fifth Avenue and West 53rd Street.
Microsoft Manhattan Retail Flagship
The name Microsoft signifies cutting edge technology. That’s why everything associated with the brand needs to reflect its persona and culture. Their new Manhattan location at 677 Fifth Avenue reflects the new era of products from Microsoft. Gensler selected W&W Glass to be a critical part of the team due to their expertise with custom solutions and the tight project schedule. W&W worked with Canadian over-sized glass supplier Agnora and Tripyramid Structures, Inc. of Westford, Massachusetts on the custom stainless steel T-shaped mullions, door portal frame, and tension rods.
The facade uses high tension, high strength horizontal cables to support the jumbo sized glass that is structurally silicone-glazed to custom stainless steel flat profile T-shaped mullions. The tension rods span horizontally every 10-feet to act as a wind load support for the suspended vertical tees. This plan pushed the scale of what was previously accomplished with other cable tension facades before, using glass sizes of 20-foot wide by 10-foot tall. All fabricators required a refinement of their manufacturing processes to get the components exactly per the project specifications. W&W Glass’ experience in working with these systems allowed them to rise to the challenge of designing and installing a system this complex. It also took a lot of man-power to carefully unload and maneuver the massive lites of multi-ply laminated glass panels weighing well over 1,000 pounds with inches to spare behind the sidewalk shed.
Besides the hurdles of a new design, time was critical. What normally took 14 months had to be reduced to 9 months to hit the new product launch. W&W took advantage of the close proximity to the jobsite for quick response, as well as a wealth of experience from designing and installing many cable tension facade systems over the years.
W&W Glass LLC is a family owned business with a 70-year history in the metal and glass industry, one of the largest metal and structural glass companies in the New York metropolitan area and the largest supplier of structural glass systems in the country. We have over two decades of experience in the design and installation of various building enclosure systems, including stick-built curtain walls, pre-glazed unitized curtain walls, Pilkington Planar™ structural glass facades, and custom metal and glass enclosure systems. We install all of our work with our own dedicated union labor force. W&W is consistently the largest employer of glaziers in the NY metropolitan area.