Report by Alannah Sharry

This tour was kindly supported/organized by:

On a rainy morning, delegates gathered under the stainless steel-clad canopy for a tour of 7 Bryant Park. The Bank of China-owned office building sits on a block-long site fronting on the Avenue of the Americas between 39th and 40th streets, and diagonally adjoins Bryant Park, a large green space with outdoor seating and public ice rink. Walking into the lobby, visitors are met with a lush green wall and fountain. Two architects from Pei Cobb Freed met the group and escorted them up to the 28th floor – the topmost floor of office space – where they enjoyed 360-degree views of Manhattan, along with a catered breakfast.

Several of the project’s key members from Pei Cobb Freed gave brief presentations on different aspects of the building’s design. Yvonne Szeto, Design Partner, described the genesis of the project, and the requirements that shaped its design: to maximize office space, and build in accordance with the mandated zoning envelope. Bruce White, Associate Partner, offered some insight into the structural design of the building, and described the unique features of the façade, with stainless steel spandrels and 10-foot-wide (three-meter-wide) modules of floor-to-ceiling glass in aluminum frames. Annie Yan Bailey, Senior Associate, talked about designing the interiors of the building for a functional, comfortable, and beautiful office space that would foster productivity.

The resulting design is a lower podium with nine floors, with a rectangular tower of 21 floors set back above. A centerpiece of the design is two conical incisions that are carved into the building volume, with their apexes touching at the 10th floor, the mandated setback level. This is intended to be a gesture to the park, and “the lower cones address the public space, and the upper cones address the skyline,” Szeto explained.

The group then visited a completed floor of the building, still decorated from a party the Bank of China had just hosted there, as well as a raw floor that had not been fitted out yet. They then stepped out onto the roof terrace to enjoy the great view of midtown Manhattan, and take photos. The group was led through one of the mechanical floors by Pasquale Eboli, Senior Engineering Manager at Hines. Mr. Eboli described some practical functions of the LEED Gold building, and energy-saving measures such as power-generating 365-kilowatt microturbines, and a storm water reclamation system.

The group concluded the tour back in the lobby with the inviting green wall.
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