Copper, gold, bronze, orange, white, silver, violet, green, blue and aqua. The 184,000-sq-ft curtain wall of the $300-million Westin New York at Times Square has 10 base colors, 8,000 panes of glass and so little repetition in shape, size, color, thickness and panel details that the units were bar-coded at the fabricator to keep track of inventory.

JAZZY GEOMETRICS Hotel has 10 colors in towerwalls.(Photo by Norman McGrath, Courtesy Tishman Realty & Construction CO. INC)

"The complexity [was] getting the right color in the right panel in the right location," says Joseph L. Ross, executive vice president of Tishman Construction Corp., New York City. Tishman Realty & Construction Co. Inc. affiliates are the hotel's developer, owner and builder.

Out of 4,500 curtain wall units, only a few are identical and only about a half dozen were misfits, adds Alberto DeGobbi, president of Permasteelisa Cladding Technologies Ltd., Windsor, Conn. Under an $18-million contract, the firm, part of Permasteelisa Group near Venice, Italy, engineered, fabricated and installed the curtain wall and the cladding of the hotel's "bustle"–a nine-story projection at the base of the 532-ft-tall rectilinear tower that contains an atrium.

The 47-story glass mosaic, which changes hues as it reflects the sky, sun and clouds, is further animated on the north and south facades by a sweeping vertical brush stroke of white–a gently curved slot that fills with a beam of light from dusk to midnight. The divided surface, one side in gray and blue tones with vertical mullions to represent the sky and the other with copper tones and horizontal mullions to represent earth, reinforces the sound and light show that is Manhattan's "new" 42nd Street. "It's an arts and crafts solution with high-tech materials" and many colors made possible by a "huge leap forward" in the glass sector, says Bernardo Fort-Brescia, principal of the project's design architect, Arquitectonica. The Miami-based firm is also the interiors architect. HKS Inc., Dallas, is the production architect.

The bustle sits atop Tishman's existing E-Walk cinema complex. A jazzy parquet-style cladding of aluminum panels with punched windows encloses the bustle. The panels are a puzzle of geometric shapes, painted in copper, golds and browns.

The hotel, sculpted to a point at the tower's top with opposite-pitched rooflines, is Arquitectonica's first New York City project. For Fort-Brescia, it was a real eye-opener. He attributes that to the myriad details, inside and out, and the demands of New York City real estate.

The facade is only the hotel's most visible claim to fame. With 863 rooms, Tishman says it is the largest new hotel to open in New York City in 17 years.

The lower 22 stories opened on Oct. 18, four months earlier than projected in the original 33-month schedule. By this month's end, some 700 rooms will be available. Construction is set to be completed by the end of February. Ross says good winter weather and a two-day-per-floor concrete cycle on the tower account for the early "half-opening."

Hidden between the bustle and E-walk are seismic isolators that allow 4 in. of lateral displacement between the hotel and E-walk. Ross believes this is the first use of isolators in New York City. The structural concrete hotel was designed by local structural engineer Ysrael A. Seinuk, with Tishman Construction Corp., to meet New York City seismic regulations in force since 1997. Two sloping roof-diaphragm slabs conceal mechanical equipment and connect columns and shear walls into a three-dimensional, rigid system that resists lateral loads. The pointed vertical projection of the "sky" curtain wall is braced by steel trusses.

The bustle, attached to the tower laterally, bears on the existing E-Walk, which has a different column grid. Gravity loads are transferred to E-Walk columns through a system of 13 steel trusses, 11 ft deep. Differential movement between the hotel and E-Walk is accommodated by a system of 18 seismic isolators, one on top of each E-Walk column. The 1-ton isolators, composed of as many as 25 layers of 1�8-in.-thick round steel plates and 3�8-in.-thick rubber, offer limited lateral resistance, says the engineer, and transfer a very limited amount of shear to the structure below. Additional steel around each isolator support eliminates any moment transfer to E-Walk.

To produce the curtain wall, Permasteelisa staff in Italy engineered working models of the panels, based on Arquitectonica's computer-drawn designs, and tested them for thermal and wind load performance. The facade is expected to withstand hurricane-force winds likely in a 100-year storm.

BUSTLE TRUSS Isolators allow hotel to "swivel" on cinema (Photo by Philip Greenberg, Courtesy Tishman Realty & Construction CO. INC)

Each double-paned spandrel or vision-panel unit is insulated and framed by an extruded aluminum alloy. After creating the dies to extrude the frame profiles, workers in Italy produced the extrusions. The shapes then went to Holland for painting in either silver or copper. The glass lights were fabricated by Viracon Inc. in its plant in Owatonna, Minn. All the pieces were assembled at Permasteelisa's plant in Windsor. Workers used computer numerically controlled machining centers, including lathes that can cut on six axes. The units were bar-coded, packed in crates and trucked to Manhattan.

Installation, from the inside of the building, was straightforward except for the light slot because of its arch, and the top of the tower. There, panels were installed from staging on the outside. The process took the nine months anticipated.

The impact of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the hotel job was negligible. After a temporary labor shortage, with workers drawn to Ground Zero or to help displaced firms build temporary office space, "it was full speed ahead," says Ross.