A curved glass façade creates the public face of the new Nordstrom flagship store in New York City, located at the podium of a 95-story residential tower. Its undulating façade, designed by James Carpenter Design Associates, gives the effect of transparent waves of glass. On the interior, the double-curved glass panels create alternating convex and concave spaces within the store, adding unique spaces for shopping and display. The story-high insulated glass panels are structurally self-supporting and rely on the curvature of the panels to create a geometrical stiffness that allows the glass units to span between floors without structural mullions or glass fins behind.
The challenges, in terms of technology, material, and design, lay in producing four-layer laminated insulating glass with the tight radii needed for the curves. Additionally, the curves result in differential solar heat absorption, which affects the panel edge stresses, while wind and seismic loads mean that the facade must tolerate a certain degree of movement. The requirement for rigidity together with flexibility was eventually satisfied by developing a lateral slip joint within the curved profile. The result is a visually striking façade that combines structure and light to create elegant interior retail spaces.