The 47th Street Diamond Exchange occupies the very busy southeast corner of Sixth Avenue and West 47th Street. The Owners of the building have traded on this corner for three generations and have owned the building since 1938. To attract better tenants and inject vitality into the older exchange, the Owners asked us to design a renovation for the building that would create buzz on the street, be visually arresting and maximize the real estate asset. The other very large requirement was that the exchange would have to remain open during construction.
The most innovative and visually compelling component of the project is the new curtain wall. Into a hectic, visually cacophonous streetscape, a spare, rectilinear facade, almost serene in its aspect, frames a supergraphic banner of a woman blowing bubbles that morph into diamonds. This large, 22' foot high glass enclosed plenum wraps around the facade of the building and becomes a type of urban wallpaper. By resupporting the floors and roof on new columns and beams, removing the existing masonry bearing skin, and pulling the second floor back from the building line, it was possible to create this vitrine to hold the banner. The skin of glass-supported, low-iron, glass lites was manufactured by Pilkington and installed within a large stainless steel mullion that serves as a picture frame for the image. Insulated brake-formed aluminum spandrel panels enclose services shaftways and the structure above the ground floor and roof. The ground floor is clad with laminated, acid-resistant, glass panels on a granite base.
The main point of the Diamond District is to be at street level. Counter space for traders, dealers and jewelers are often leased by the inch. This strategy of squeezing revenue from every horizontal inch of a floor plate plays continuously on the street. The interest and excitement created by the banner has allowed the Owners to increase the rental charges for the second and third floors, but the real Innovation at this site is the introduction of revenue production at the vertical surface.
4500 SQFT / 420 SQM