Designed by Ennead Architects, an 18-story laboratory building for Weill Cornell Medical Center fosters interdisciplinary research behind an advanced facade that references the crystalline glass vocabulary of the adjacent Weill Greenberg Center as well as the scale of the surrounding residential fabric.
The north, east, and west sides of the building are enclosed by a system of horizontal and vertical unitized strip windows with zinc panels set within a masonry cavity wall, while the south facade controls solar thermal gain passively with a double-skin curtain wall. Its outer skin is composed of low-iron laminated glass patterned with ceramic frit that creates a white, minimally reflective appearance. A complex geometry of folded planes evokes the scale of nearby residential balconies, while also reducing the building’s internal cooling load requirements. This sunshade wall is supported by the catwalks at each floor, which are in turn anchored to a weather tight, glass-and-aluminum inner curtain wall system.
Computational fluid dynamics found that the cavity between the outer and inner layers could act as a chimney, carrying heat upward by convection. To reduce heat buildup, ventilated openings let warm convection currents escape the cavity between its inner and outer surfaces. These open ventilation segments exclude birds with tension rods spaced approximately ¾ inch apart—an aesthetic solution to conventional bird wire. Setscrews in the wall’s side panels allow the rods to be tightened in unison if they slacken over time. Grated and open steel catwalks support the outer skin and allow access for maintenance.
Heintges provided curtain wall and building envelope consulting services during all phases of design and construction, and provided NYC Department of Buildings Special Inspections.
Photographs 1-5 by Jeff Goldberg/Esto; Photographs 6-12 by Heintges.