Based at 140 West 24th Street in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood, the recently constructed Hyatt Place stands as one of the tallest Hyatt hotels in the U.S. -- towering 45 stories with more than 500 rooms. Its location and height provide sweeping City views to the north and south, including of the Empire State Building and the Freedom Tower, for its guests. With such a prominent exposure on all four sides, the design required a natural stone exterior to anchor it into its surrounding environment. Meeting the requirements for this exterior design, GammaStone Natural AIR with beige Portuguese limestone of 6mm thickness was the material of choice.
“As with most urban projects, space was at a premium,” stated the GammaStone team. “This building is very tall on an extremely tight site, so there was not much room outside the concrete walls to add the insulation and the rainscreen cladding system. GammaStone panels were chosen because they are very thin and light, to make them fit, and also to be installed on such heights, safely.”
The facade was required to have all cladding and exterior insulation layers within only a 4-inch total system depth, while having some depth to account for tolerances on a very tall concrete superstructure. Moreover, the natural stone panels meet today’s strict energy requirements. In particular, limestone was selected for its historic ties to New York City architecture.
“Historically, most of New York City is clad in limestone – which has warm medium tones,” stated the GammaStone team. “It speaks to strength and stability. Here, the panels are used in a modern way without ornament, but match the texture of the surroundings.”
According to GammaStone, “The unique ability for us to make special monolithic elements ready for installation contributes to the indisputable success of GammaStone AIR panels worldwide. They are the result of substantial investments in research and development, for advanced solutions; a philosophy that contributes to study and patent innovative construction systems. The elements as corners, soffits, ceilings, columns, beams, etc. are assembled entirely in our plant and are installed with extreme simplicity common anchorage systems. This system allows us to produce large and surprisingly light architectural geometric elements, impossible to realize with traditional products. All GammaStone AIR products have a real monolithic appearance and allow architects to realize highly complex elements without neglecting the minimum details.”
Among the primary details discussed between the design team and GammaStone prior to installation related to ensuring that the overall depth of the system would not force the cladding over the property line. “With continuous concrete shear walls over 500 feet tall on the east and west sides, we needed to be thin, but also an adjustable depth for any places the wall would bump out or in,” explained the GammaStone team.
Members of the construction team did visit GammaStone’s factory in Rome, Italy, to view the finished product, but more importantly, to see the process and conditions in which the panels are fabricated. “As with any project, and especially for very tall buildings, quality assurance is key to making all stakeholders confident that the materials will perform over their lifespan,” stated the GammaStone team.
In total, the Hyatt Place in Chelsea features more than 75,000 square feet of limestone panels, which were fabricated over an eight-month period and delivered as the construction sequence dictated to be installed on site.
Construction on the hotel commenced in February of 2018 and was completed at the end of 2020. The GammaStone team said that the most memorable aspects of the project included that the design process was a collaborative effort to solve problems on the technical design and logistics of a wall system where every fraction of an inch mattered to the final outcome. “Then, of course, the building’s absolute towering height -- at 45 floors -- appears very prominently over its neighboring building, which are much shorter,” they stated.