Glass Helps Luxury Watchmaker’s Façade Withstand the Test of Time

If time could stand still, it’d likely be in front of the glassy façade of Swiss luxury watch and clock manufacturer Vacheron Constantin’s recently opened flagship store in New York. Located between Madison and Park Avenue, the flagship location spans over 4,500 square feet and covers two floors. Just a glance at the glassy façade is enough to define the brand as luxurious.

Vacheron Constantin’s flagship store in New York features a unique, glassy facade. Photo credit: VHT Studios

The flagship’s unique glass façade opens directly onto 57th Street and features a sleek brass-toned design in the shape of the company’s emblem, the Maltese Cross, which stretches almost the entire height of the store. The symbol is surrounded by glass with shades of gold and brass.

The glass used for the façade had to meet certain requirements, being both protective and aesthetically pleasing. It was designed in collaboration with Aurora Glazing Solutions based in Port Coquitlam, B.C., Canada, and architectural firm Design Republic.

“It was interesting to put together … structurally as well as part of the design,” said Jeff Lorentz, president of Aurora, of the emblem integration.

While the design didn’t require the use of incredibly large panels, it did need to ascertain the security of the expensive and luxurious items within. The glass used in the façade is about 1 9/16 inches thick. In all, the project features around 1,100 square feet of glass.

The client needed a specific security rating which involves laminated glass, multiple layers of laminated glass… Not only was there a security interlayer, there was also a woven metal mesh that was compatible with the interlayer itself,” Lorentz said.

Pulp Studio based in Gardena, Calif., fabricated the special glass for the structure using its Chromavision product. The glass utilizes fabrics as a substrate for the metallic coating and is applied to just one side of the fiber mesh. According to information from the company, “The reflective nature of the coating has a significant influence on thermal conductivity to the opposite side of the glass. The reverse side of the fabric is neutral in color and provides the feel of a pleasantly shaded room with one-way vision to the exterior.”

Bernard Lax, CEO of Pulp Studio, adds,We love that they selected Chromavision. During the day it gives the storefront the look of inserted metal panels. While at night a light screened effect.  All the time the customer inside the store can still look out with as if it is a one way mirror.”

In addition to the insulating glass from Pulp Studio, Lorentz adds that door glass panels were supplied by Garibaldi Glass in British Columbia. Metro Aluminum in Vancouver provided the curtainwall and doors, and Apex Extrusions provided the custom pressure plate and beauty caps to house the LED lights.

The project did come with a fair share of challenges. Aside from those that come with constructing a project in a skyscraper-dense and populated area such as New York – navigating traffic, road and sidewalk closures and the number of people – the façade had to be put together much like a jigsaw puzzle. Some of the insulating glass units were as large as 54 by 100 inches, and others were 52 by 84 inches.

“I don’t think there’s a single square or rectangular piece of glass on the entire project,” Lorentz said.

The obstacles come when trying to assemble the panels and having “all the different angles coming together at different points; creating triangle shapes and parallelograms.” Additionally, the exterior incorporates lighting, so Aurora had to integrate “all the wires from the outside of the façade in order to penetrate through. Then, everything had to be sealed to ensure no fasteners or wires would be visible and to have the structure waterproof.”

There are 29 Vacheron Constantin locations in the United States, with five being in New York. Although this isn’t the first of the North American locations, it is the flagship – drawing all eyes of the internationally recognized brand to the Empire State.

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