Sept. 12, 2019 / Greg
Backlit White Onyx for WoS at Hudson Yards
Beacon of Light.
The Shops at Hudson Yards is a seven-story, luxury shopping experience, and for tenants setting up shop there, the key to expressing their brand identity is visual impact. Per tenant criteria, brand storefronts within Hudson Yards are expected to be engaging, eye-catching product showcases, with full-height glazing, prominent signage, dramatic illumination, and unique, high-end finishes.
For Watches of Switzerland, the challenge was to balance a strong and striking storefront presence with the scale of their product - luxury timepieces. But how do you present a small watch within a 14-foot high window display? Watch displays are low and contained at eye level, leaving the remaining storefront area to be filled with dramatic finishes that support strong visual merchandising without overshadowing the product.
The Watches of Switzerland space is essentially a fishbowl, with 360 degrees of storefront glazing. MNA and Capelo’s response to this was proposing full-height illuminated stone paneling and large-scale video displays along the perimeter store frontage, creating bright, visual beacons for WoS branding. The aim was to capture the attention of visitors not only within the interior atrium, but from the exterior plaza as well.
Derived from the links of the watch bracelet, these backlit stone panels wrap into the main entrance and begin to unfold, opening up to filter the view from the mall atrium into the Grand Room. Within the Grand Room, the full-height illuminated stone features frame out the hospitality bar, making it a glowing centerpiece, and also filter views to the exterior plaza and the signature landmark sculpture beyond – the “Vessel” by Thomas Heatherwick.
To achieve this grand feature, MNA partnered with GPI Design, a specialist in illuminated stone, glass and resin. GPI assisted in sourcing stone materials, testing various light engines and fine-tuning fabrication details, including accented metal edging and millwork integration. The design team wanted the illumination to be soft and uniform, so we avoided overly active stones with strong veining. Instead, we selected a white onyx, as it offered a clean, white background with a softer, cloud-like figuring, complementary to backlighting. Placing a sample of the white onyx over various light sources with varying color temperatures allowed us to play with different outputs – ultimately, we landed on a bright and cool 5700K temperature that felt right for WoS. GPI also produced a mock-up of a mitered stone corner to test if illumination would disperse evenly to the panel edges. To combat light decay and shadowing, they opted to use light sheets with increased LED diode density at corners and edges to ensure a truly uniform glow.
The installation of these illuminated panels required strong communication with the various subcontractors, particularly at the hospitality bar. Final coordination for the metal edging, bar shelves and millwork was engineered. Steel outriggers for concealed shelf supports and a floating base cabinet were carefully planned between the various trades and pre-installed prior to the final stone installation.