Architecture firm OMA and luxury jewelry company Tiffany & Co. have collaborated on a new vision for the brand’s flagship store on Fifth Avenue, New York City. The renovation reimagines the retail experience while preserving the historic identity of the original building.
The project marks the first holistic renovation and preservation effort in the building’s 80-year history. OMA collaborated with Tiffany & Co. on specific aspects of the transformation—including the re-imagined upper volume atop the building. This new addition (floors eight to 10) of the 10-story architectural icon at 727 Fifth Avenue will become an exhibition, event, and clienteling space.
The collaboration began with a close-look at the existing conditions of the multi-story retail to conceive a spectrum of interventions—from preservation to reprograming, renovation of the ground floor, and reimagining how the top of the building is expressed. The reorganization of program establishes a clear zoning throughout the building, creating a more fluid circulation through and up the building. The top of the building is conceived as an addition that would provide a new dimension to Tiffany’s retail ecosystem. The multi-functional upper volume provides an infrastructure for Tiffany to expand their retail repertoire, large enough to accommodate the brand’s variety of events and activities.
Designed by Cross & Cross, the original 1940 store was a symbol of modern architecture—its limestone façade distinguished with bands of continuous vertical windows. The existing upper structure was built in 1980 as an office space, closed off to customers and incongruent with the original architecture. The ambition for the new upper volume is to extend the vertical continuity of the existing structure for a gentle transition between the two structures while creating an element of newness at the top.
The upper volume is divided into two spaces that are stacked, but have the potential to work together. The top floor is encased by a slumped glass façade that takes cues from the corniced parapet of the original building. Unlike traditional curved glass, which typically has two pieces of glass that are offset shapes of one another, the top floor façade combines flat and slumped glass, taking the two different qualities and leveraging their distinct advantages. The slumped glass is structurally favorable and requires less vertical support while creating a mirrored effect that provides privacy from the exterior. The flat low-emissivity (low-e) glass optimizes energy performance while minimizing reflections from the interior to preserve transparency for views. The resulting façade, resembling a soft curtain, is an antidote to the harsh curtain walls of the building’s neighbors.
Floors eight and nine are more efficient, made with straight glass, which still echo the volume above it, creating an additional column-free and double-height space open to both sides of the building. Programmed for exhibition and events, the volume is recessed to provide a spacious outdoor terrace with views up Fifth Avenue to Central Park. The two spaces of the upper volume that make up the new addition is a moment of clear but complementary contrast to the original flagship.
Construction on the project is currently underway and is on track to be completed in Spring 2022.