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Sculpting the New York City Skyline with Guardian Glass

Three new NYC developments showcase modern design using one of architecture’s oldest and most versatile building materials: glass

November 1, 2021

min read

In the heart of New York City, where nearly every city block is lined with towering monoliths of glass and steel, it takes a lot to stand out. But three projects shaping the NYC skyline completed in the past year, despite supply chain challenges stemming from the effects of COVID-19 and new challenges to meet environmental building standards, were made possible by hundreds of thousands of square feet of glass manufactured by Koch company Guardian Glass. These projects demonstrate how Guardian employees and partner architects are reimagining what’s possible with this versatile building material.

“It’s vital that our products contribute towards the construction of energy efficient buildings,”  says Bruce Milley, architectural design manager with Guardian Glass. “Our first requirement is to meet the New York City energy code before architects and designers start talking about the aesthetic appearance of the glass. Thankfully, our products meet these requirements whether they are manufactured in Europe or North America.”

"In addition to energy efficiency, New York City now requires bird-friendly glass on the lower 75 feet of all new construction projects," adds Danielle Tyson, Guardian Glass architectural design manager. "This new requirement has created many new opportunities for Guardian Glass to provide solutions for the energy efficiency as well as the environmental needs of this great city. We are currently working on dozens of new projects, which will likely be installing one of Guardian’s Bird1st™ products."  

Bearing in mind these evolving environmental standards and the needs of their customers, Bruce and Danielle continue their work at a pace commensurate with the city. At any given time, they could be managing 100 different active projects in various stages of construction, ranging from smaller storefront glass installations to 90-story towers. But large or small, seeing the results of their efforts reflected in the face of the city is a reward in itself.

“I’ve had the good fortune of being involved in a number of monumental projects since I’ve been with Guardian,” Bruce says. “In some respects, what we’re dealing with here are projects that will be around for the next 50 years, projects that will be around for the rest of our lives. And there’s a real sense of satisfaction in that.”


Updating Downtown History

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New York City's fourth-largest building, One Vanderbilt, is a 67-floor skyscraper that utilizes more than 600,000 square feet of Guardian SunGuard® High Performance Neutral 50/32 glass.

Given the project’s historic location and the buildings surrounding it, careful consideration was taken with the glass selection.

“We were working with one of the biggest architectural firms in the world, and they had a very clear idea of what they wanted from a glass standpoint, but they needed it to complement the terra cotta that they were going to use, and the design of the structure that was to complement the surrounding historical buildings,” Bruce says.

Working closely with architects has been critical to Guardian’s continued success and steady project flow in New York City. The relationship built with architectural firm Kohn Pederson Fox led to the major downtown project.

“We’ve done a lot of work with them over the years," Bruce says. "And they approached us for some glass options for this particular project.”  

The Guardian team provided a solution that was very neutral in color with a medium amount of outdoor reflectivity – an aesthetic that worked with the visual environment. This glass selection allows One Vanderbilt to stand out as a modern-looking silhouette without overpowering the buildings around it or looking out of place near much older constructions.


A Home Away for Turkey

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One of the grandest and most visually stunning of these projects is the 35-story, 563-foot Turkevi Center, a new construction housing the Turkish consulate built just across First Avenue from the headquarters of the United Nations. “They were looking for a more subdued, neutral look for the podium area and something that was lighter in appearance and more reflective for the tower,” Bruce says. This stacked design of the tower’s glass curtain wall resting atop its lower podium, and the relatively new SunGuard® glass products (SunGuard SNX 60 and SunGuard HP Silver 35/26) covering more than 200,000 square feet of surface area create a visual contrast that distinguishes the Turkevi Center from even the newest high-rises around it. 

As an international company, Guardian’s global footprint was important to this project. The Turkish consulate was looking to use a Turkish product in the construction, and while the SunGuard products lining the building’s façade are manufactured in Europe, the fabrication as well as many of the key players in the overall production process take place in Turkey.

“The projects that we’re talking about here, two of them were supplied from Europe,” Bruce adds. “They were fabricated in either Spain or Turkey. The architects are from New York. We live and work in a global environment, and Guardian is very well-suited to service and supply projects of this magnitude by the nature of our international focus.”


Building on a Brooklyn Bank

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Just across the Williamsburg Bridge in Brooklyn sits one of Danielle’s most recent projects, a commercial and residential building called The Dime that was built upon the historic foundation of the borough’s old Dime Savings Bank. The building utilizes roughly 70,000 square feet of Guardian SunGuard® AG 50 coated glass, which delivers a hint of reflectivity with improved thermal and solar performance. For Danielle, it’s a standing reminder of all the work that went into making the project possible – like carting 12-by-12 glass samples down busy city streets to help the architects at Fogarty Finger Architecture choose the perfect product.

“Just figuring out how to carry a dozen samples down cobblestone was a challenge, but it was worth it to get the project,” she says. “Driving into Brooklyn now, I can see The Dime from the bridge, so I think I do get a little sentimental about being involved in a process where we’re shaping the skyline of arguably the greatest city in the world.”