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Unitized Systems Are Raising the Level and
Complexity of Curtain-Wall Design
Factory-built components let architects achieve the quality clients now demand
[ Page 2 of 8 ]

By Sara Hart

Written on the wall

Burberry, the London-based haberdashery founded in 1856, is so well branded by its signature check pattern of camel, black, red, and white that the clothes need no other brand identification. In New York City, where there is an epidemic of high-end, high-concept flagship stores, the dignified purveyor wanted a competitive presence on tony 57th Street without the flashy demeanor of Niketown across the street, yet as elegant as the opalescent LVMH tower a few doors east.

 


Burberry, New York City

At the Seele factory in Gersthofen, Germany, architects, engineers, and fabricators collaborated to detail the metal-mesh sections (right, far right). Eventually, the mesh was changed from steel to aluminum to reduce the weight of the wall. Seele determined that X-bracing (above) was needed to stiffen the members. The team built prototypes to study the connections.

 

Burberry commissioned the New York office of Gensler to create an envelope to enclose the elegant interiors crafted by interior designer Randall A. Ridless [record, March 2003, page 203]. The site of the new building consisted of the shells of adjoining town houses, the former location of fashion house Escada, and the current, aging and inadequate Burberry flagship.

 

Burberry, New York City

At the Seele factory in Gersthofen, Germany, architects, engineers, and fabricators collaborated to detail the metal-mesh sections (right, far right). Eventually, the mesh was changed from steel to aluminum to reduce the weight of the wall. Seele determined that X-bracing (above) was needed to stiffen the members. The team built prototypes to study the connections.

 

Before the “gymnastics of making two facades into one”—as the challenge was described by design principal Lance Boge, AIA—could begin, the architects had to investigate the integrity of the two independent shells, each one a structural hodgepodge, the result of decades of renovations. “There were three or four different types of construction,” says Belinda Watts, project manager for the envelope and structural renovation, and the problem was further complicated by the fact that the floor plates in the two structures did not line up.

 

[ Page 2 of 8 ]

 

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