After some delays, the International Gem Tower (IGT) now dazzles in the middle of the (ironically) dreary block known as the Diamond District. The 34-story office tower, structurally complete but not fully occupied, now challenges the rest of the block to catch up, visually if not technically.
Architecturally, the IGT’s claim to fame is skin deep: Architects Skidmore, Owings & Merrill call it “crystalline curtain wall with embedded steel medallions.” The reflective surfaces change appearance as the sun moves – especially if viewed through polarized lenses – because metal and glass reflect light differently. Illuminated offices will further change the building’s appearance – it may become mesmerizing.
Beneath the skin, International Gem Tower has other innovations specifically focused on the diamond trade: Secure underground delivery bays, double door (man trap) entry to office suites and other security systems. The building has also been certified as New York’s only U.S. Foreign Trade Zone – allowing duty-free import/export within the building.
The building’s other distinction is that it is two buildings in one. The first 20 floors are being sold to diamond industry tenants as condominiums. The first three floors have been sold to Turkish-based Gulaylar Group for a retail mall. The upper 14 floors are being leased to non-diamond industry tenants – these occupants have their own entrance, at 55 W 46th Street, in the midst of Little Brazil.
There’s a pleasant little public access space behind 1166 Sixth Avenue (between W 46th and W 45th Streets) where you can sit and contemplate IGT’s changing visual patterns.
International Gem Tower Vital Statistics
- Location: 50 W 47th Street / 55 W 46th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues
- Year completed: 2013
- Architect: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
- Floors: 34
- Style: Postmodern
International Gem Tower Recommended Reading
- The Real Deal review
- New York Post article (2013)
- New York Post article (2011)
- Business Wire story
- Curbed New York archive (scroll down)
- Emporis database
- International Gem Tower website