Dancing Towers & Stunning Skybridge Come Straight from the Future

09.14.2018

Last year, the East Side of Manhattan became home to New York City’s first skybridge in more than 80 years. The 100-foot-long structure is the defining feature of the east and west towers of the American Cooper Buildings at 626 First Avenue, which house a combined 760 residences ranging from studios to three-bedroom units. A modern, thought-out design structure, the skybridge includes key design elements like SEFAR Architecture’s VISION fabric – a material that protects the skybridge and its 60,000 square feet of amenities from the heat and glare of the sun while providing unobstructed views of the city.


The towers were built to look like they were dancing with each other.

Building Privacy

Barely perceptible from the inside, the VISION fabric interlayer utilizes the three-dimensional effects of the fabric to provide a unique depth to the glass façade, which is typically seen as a two-dimensional system. From the outside, the fabric is opaque, offering privacy for building occupants.

“We needed a material that would not affect views from the interior, but would provide stunning visual contrast between the copper of the two towers from the exterior,” explains John Ivanoff, associate at BuroHappold Engineering. “We introduced Sefar’s VISION fabric to the architect and worked hand-in-hand with them throughout the process. This product was the ideal choice. We were confident that this material would provide the right visual and performance characteristics for this unique project’s needs.”

Across the skybridge’s three levels are a 75-foot-long indoor lap pool, a lounge, CopperTone (the health club), a juice bar and a Turkish spa. The space has direct views of major New York City landmarks, including the Empire State Building.

“The Skybridge is a multi-use, triple-level facility and required a high-performing material that also has impressive visual appeal,” adds Ivanoff. “It was important to have such a versatile product to make sure these different spaces – the pool and additional amenity spaces – would be equally comfortable and beautiful.

Improved Thermal Performance

Functionally, SEFAR VISION fabric interlayers improve thermal performance by reducing heat loading and will save building owners additional expense on HVAC. The laminated fabric mesh will also reduce glare by mitigating visual light transmission (VLT), eliminating the need for exterior louvers and interior shading systems, further reducing the capital cost to the owner.

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“We wanted to differentiate the materiality of the skybridge from the copper towers, not only during the day, but at night,” explains Ayumi Sugiyama, director of cultural projects with SHoP Architects. “As the finest frit patterns were too visible in our team’s opinion, we selected the SEFAR aluminum mesh interlayer. The aluminum finish faces the exterior and is illuminated by the lighting. The fine mesh is painted black facing the interior and visually recedes, allowing for unimpeded views to the Manhattan skyline, the East River and beyond.”

SEFAR VISION fabric interlayers are used to enhance the exterior appearance of glass facades, rainscreens, curtain walls, glass rail and interior and decorative glass partition wall systems, while preserving the views from the inside. In addition to its aesthetic benefits for these applications, SEFAR assists with thermal modeling to demonstrate how the VISION fabric interlayer reduces solar heat gain and glare.

Leasing launched at one of the American Copper Buildings in spring 2017, and it is expected that the other building will be ready to welcome tenants later this year. The developer is JDS Development, and architect SHoP Architects designed the structure.

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