In the heart of the cultural district in Brooklyn, New York, the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM) South tower enlivens an underused section of the district and draws people into the vibrant civic space. The 32-story, mixed-use building uses a porous design and features an expansive, terraced plaza.
The tower was designed by Ten Arquitectos’ Enrique Norten with executive architect Ismael Leyva.
The building’s base provides street-level entry into retail areas. A stepped plaza follows its form, extending upward to allow for easy outdoor programming while drawing pedestrians toward the 4656-m2 (50,000-sf) cultural space on the lower floors. This designated area holds a museum, dance studio, a library, and room for the expansion of the BAM cinemas. The remainder of the tower contains rental apartments, 20 percent of which are allocated for affordable housing.
According to the firm’s website, Ten Arquitectos envisioned a façade that would pick up the colors of the thriving streetscape and put the focus where it should be—“on the life of the city.” A faceted metal façade helps accomplish this mission on the tower portion. To reflect the culture of the popular district on the building’s ground floor, the exterior podium shines with 1394 m2 (15,000) of 15 mm (5/8 in.) white crystallized glass ceramic panels.
The glass panels have a bright, smooth, and high-sheen surface, which reflects light and helps mirror the activity of the surrounding streets. The panels also have a high resistance to staining, pollution, and graffiti.
Crystallized glass ceramic panels have a low thermal expansion rate and are lighter and stronger than natural stone, making them a suitable cladding material for a building subject to New York’s harsh weather conditions. The building team installed the panels over a 15 mm reveal, open-joint rainscreen on a ‘back-cut’ anchor that is mounted on an engineered strut support system. This design allowed the panels to be installed in a true rainscreen application while providing a clean, modern aesthetic.
To ensure all project goals were met, the engineering and design team modeled and constructed the BAM South base podium façade using a building information modeling (BIM) software.