New York loves glass. From the nine-foot-tall touchscreen Wi-Fi hotspots taking over the city’s sidewalks to the alternating triangles of the One World Trade Center’s facade, its smooth surfaces glisten wherever one looks, especially lately, as a forest of needle towers sticks its way into the skyline.
In SoHo, XOCO 325 (pronounced sho-co) is quietly bucking the trend. The ten-story condo development on West Broadway is encased in, yes, glass, but also a sheath of custom cast-aluminum. The distinction is crucial. Instead of another semi-transparent monolith, the historic district gets a new neighbor that replicates the cast-iron architecture for which it is known and loved.
DDG designed the screen as a connection to SoHo’s industrial past. Cast in aluminum, which is more lightweight and affordable than iron, it is composed of two components, a horizontal spandrel and a vertical column, that repeat in a grid pattern reminiscent of the exteriors of the area’s old warehouses.
At the end of the day, the design is as much about the soul of the neighborhood as it is about functionality: The aluminum skeleton provides privacy for residents who will soon occupy the building’s top nine floors. The ground level, a retail area that will need to showcase wares, is floor-to-ceiling glass.