Backlit Translucent Wall System

Case Study: Times Square NY Retailer Backlit Translucent Wall System

NYC Times Square Facade | Times Square, NY

  • Owner: Withheld
  • Architect: Chipman Design Architecture
  • General Contractor: Schimiti Construction Company LLC
  • Installing Coordinator – Translucent Walls: Mistral Architectural Metal + Glass
  • Manufacturer – Translucent Wall System: EXTECH/Exterior Technologies Inc.
  • Photography: Valentina Vanni

Times Square NY Retailer Backlit Translucent Wall System

One of the world’s biggest retailers opened their doors in Times Square, New York at the end of October 2017. Welcoming local shoppers and tourists, its main entrance features a translucent wall system from Exterior Technologies, Inc. (EXTECH). Constructed of structural cellular polycarbonate in a branded blue, the exterior glows with custom backlighting.

The five-story co-located retailers are anticipated to be the retailer’s highest-volume stores in the world, with roughly 450,000 people passing through Times Square each day.

Attractive Aesthetic

Able to withstand New York’s changing climate and constant traffic, EXTECH’s LIGHTWALL 3440® was selected “for its clean, frameless appearance; its soft diffused daylighting and its superior thermal performance,” according to Kevin Smith, President at EXTECH.

“As our most popular product, LIGHTWALL 3440 offers a beautiful, durable and economical solution for building envelopes and skylights,” notes Smith. “This system does not require framing members within the field of the glazing, which allows for a clean, modern architectural aesthetic.”

The store’s design meets precise brand standards as directed by the retailer’s global creative services. The blue polycarbonate panels are a custom hue that matches the brand’s color palette. EXTECH provided numerous samples to ensure the correct color and even light transmission.

Balanced for Backlighting

Spanning more than 5,000 square feet, the nearly 33-foot-high wall system consists of three individual rows – top and bottom rows are 8 feet 5 inches high, and the middle section is 15 feet 10-1/4 inches high. Two, frameless, polycarbonate, 127-degree corners face 44th and Broadway.

Each row is comprised of interlocking, structural cellular polycarbonate panels cut to 1-9/16 inches (40 mm) thick by 19-11/16 inches (500 mm) wide. The interior and exterior surfaces of the panels use a co-extruded, infrared-blocking material to filter out unwanted IR and UV waves. In addition, an anti-reflective material on exterior surface promotes balanced light filtration.

“The non-reflective material also enhances the panel’s exterior surface’s ‘glow’ when backlit and eliminates distracting reflections from the numerous lights on Broadway,” Smith explains. “We assisted with six, large-scale, LED-backlit mock-ups utilizing a variety of panels to determine the optimum LED fixture type, color rendering index and panel type.”

Precise Performance

Beyond optimal diffusion, EXTECH’s LIGHTWALL 3440 meets demanding performance specifications, including high wind loads, impact resistance, fire rating, air infiltration, water penetration, thermal and structural performance. Tested and proven to meet these criteria, EXTECH’s wall system is backed with a 10-year warranty.

The highly insulating wall system also supports the building owner’s focus on sustainability. The structural cellular polycarbonate panels and aluminum framing are 100 percent recyclable, and the aluminum is manufactured with 38.95 percent recycled content.

Enhancing its long lifecycle, the extruded aluminum framing and custom, offset, extruded aluminum mounting clips are finished with Class I Clear anodize finish.

“We developed the façade’s specialized mounting clips to minimize shadowing of building supports, while giving the panels lateral support,” notes Smith. “The custom clips – combined with our lightweight, tongue-and-groove panel system – helped complete the installation quickly and correctly.”

Challenging Construction

Mistral Architectural Metal + Glass received the pre-fabricated EXTECH wall system at the job site in New York, and installed the unitized sections on site. Mistral worked closely with Schimenti Construction throughout the 43-week schedule.

“The extremely crowded location, filled with tourists and passersby, created unique challenges, especially collaborating with the Times Square Alliance for exterior work and deliveries,” said Schimenti’s project manager, Brian Tubman. “On most sites, for instance, you don’t have to coordinate with the security staffs of ABC’s Good Morning America and MTV’s TRL!”

Schimenti’s project executive Jesse Bochichio added, “The store came out great and we’re looking forward to more work like this.”


If you would like to learn more about this project or our LIGHTWALL 3440, we're more than happy to chat! Please contact us for more information.