The New York Times Building – Manhattan
Innovation: Passive Shading – Ceramic Sunscreen Curtain Wall
Location: 620 Eighth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan, New York
By: Renzo Piano Building Workshop
Architects: Renzo Piano Building Workshop & FXFOWLE Architects
Exterior Wall Consultant: Heitmann & Associates, Inc.
Size: 52 stories/1.5 million-square-feet
The New York Times selected Piano’s design for its energy conservancy and representation of the companies transparent philosophy. In his design, Piano proposed the first ceramic sunscreen to be built in the United States. The exterior framework consisted of 185,000 strategically placed ceramic tubes for optimal standing and seated views that welcomed the penetration of natural light. The aluminum silicate rods hang 18 inches out from the building creating a second skin to absorb heat which reduces the heat load by 30% and energy costs by 13%. Furthermore, the skin reduces the harshness of the buildings edges, so it fades into the skyline. 
In addition, a complementary lighting system , SolarTrac, is used that adjusts according to solar exposure using programmed window shades. This active system reduces the lighting load by 30% and creates an organic experience that adjusts with the elements . The SolarTrac system was developed by MechoSystems and the Lawrence Lab at Berkley, and opens up possibilities for future buildings to implement this technology with typical shading curtain walls such as aluminum, wire-mesh, wood or terra-cotta .
Building Website. Window Shading System
More Images by Annie Leibovitz chronicling the building construction
Videos: Interview, Ceramic Rods, Energy Reduction