Wrapping a Diamond

The other day I was in Midtown and caught my first glimpse of the facade going up on the International Gem Tower, designed by SOM and developed by Extell. Unfortunately I only had my phone with me to snap a photo from the plaza on 46th Street east of Sixth Avenue:


Located on a stretch of West 47th Street that is home to the Diamond District, the building is appropriately billed as "New York's only 21st century commercial condo designed specifically for the diamond, gem and jewelry trade." And while SOM's web page does not have any mention of the project, it seems like a safe bet that diamonds and gems influenced the building's skin. Here's a close-up of the above photo.


The bulk of the facade is made of mirrored glass that is faceted along the spandrel and in verticals that alternate on every floor. These combine to give the whole wrapper a repeated stepping pattern. Renderings, like these and the one below, give the wall more transparency than the current reality. Eventually nighttime will reveal some of what is behind the faceted skin, but during the day it will be all mirrors and reflection. Granted it's appropriate for the Diamond District, but more in the vein of tacky than elegant jewelry.

[International Gem Tower exterior rendering | image source]


  1. Looks like a good attempt at replicating the facets of gems. Look forward to seeing the finished building.


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