by Jincy IypeNov 16, 2020
Architecture firm OMA has joined hands with jewellery giant Tiffany & Co. to transform their 80-year-old flagship store to reflect the future of the famed brand. The New York-based companies envision a new retail experience while maintaining the character of the iconic store on 727 Fifth Avenue, marking the building’s first complete renovation effort.
The original flagship, designed by old-time architecture firm Cross & Cross (1907–1942), was a figure of modern architecture with its limestone exterior and continuous bands of vertical windows. It featured an incongruent upper structure, built 40 years later, that served as a closed-off office space.
Examining the existing conditions of the multi-storey retail building, OMA proposed several interventions - from preservation to reprogramming, revamping the ground floor and reimagining the role of the upper stories. The renovation scheme sets clear zoning throughout the building to create flowing circulation through the retail spaces.
“The Tiffany & Co. Fifth Avenue flagship is arguably one of the most beloved and well-known luxury retail spaces in the world. It's a place where so many have memories of important moments in their lives, filled with emotion and anticipation of the extraordinary,” mentioned Reed Krakoff, Chief Artistic Officer, Tiffany & Co.
The collaborative design meets the growing demands of the brand with a re-imagined upper volume at the crown of the 10-storey building, hosting a public arena for exhibitions, events and clienteling. The upper terrace comprises two stacked volumes that can potentially work together. Conceptualised as an addition to the building, the floating volume presents a new dimension to Tiffany’s evolved retail practice, creating a new face to the brand’s identity that is expressed to the public.
Unlike traditional curved glass, the facade of the upper stories combines the aesthetics of the distinctly-profiled flat and slumped glass. The slumped glass is structurally convenient and demands less vertical support, while producing a mirrored effect to provide privacy from the outside. The flat low-E glass enhances energy performance while lessening reflections from the interior to provide transparent views out onto the city. The shape of the glass facade holds the memory of the corniced parapet of the original structure. The resulting facade mimics a soft curtain, an antidote to the harsh curtain walls of the adjoining buildings.
The straight glass that encases the more efficient eighth and ninth floors echoes the volume above it, holding a column-free and double-height space open to both sides of the building. The exhibition space is recessed into the built form to provide a spacious outdoor terrace with views up Fifth Avenue to Central Park.
The two upper volumes are a modern twist to the original 1940 Tiffany flagship, a symbolic finish to the building that reflects a well-aged luxury experience that is ‘more a journey than a destination’. The design intends to stretch the vertical continuity of the original structure to gently morph into a contemporary addition, reflecting Tiffany’s balanced notions of pragmatism with sensuality.
Partner Shohei Shigematsu, Associate Jake Forster and OMA New York took the challenge to renovate the historic structure. Construction is currently underway and is expected to complete in Spring 2022. Until then, Tiffany & Co.’s retail operations will continue in the neighbouring 6 East 57th Street location.
(Text by Ankitha Gattupalli, intern at stirworld.com)