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The New Lap of Luxury


ARCHITECT: Atelier Christian de Portzamparc, Paris

BUILDING TYPE: U.S. offices for the luxury-goods marketer

LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMHY), with its stable of luxury brands like Dom Perignon, Louis Vuitton, and TAG Heuer, wanted to consolidate its various New York offices into a flagship that would serve as a "cultural manifesto." It did just that. On high-profile 57th Street, LVMH's chiseled gem breaks the mold of lackluster, blocky towers that look as if they were designed by a city zoning official, not architects. Like fashion, the beauty is meant to be externally arresting. That means a faceted exterior melding three kinds of translucent glass to attenuate reflections of a nearby black tower while diffusing natural light inside. "This is a building that stops people in the street," says juror Gary P. Haney. It "has raised expectations about what architecture can do," says another juror, Terence Riley.

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