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Water-resistant wood panels: a key component of the
50 Hudson Yards office tower, New York City

50 Hudson Yards will be New York City’s fourth largest commercial office tower when it is completed in 2022. Part of the wider Hudson Yards development on the western edge of Manhattan, the tower will be 985 ft tall and span 3 million sq. ft.

 

 

Architecture Studio: FOSTER+PARTNERS (NYC Office)
Owner: RELATED

General Contractor: GILBANE
Fitter: CENTRE INTERIORS WOODWORKING CO, INC.

Product: WET INTERNAL F WALNUT Woodskin (2700 x 1220 x 8 mm)
Installation: On the bathroom walls of all 58 floors of the building

The walls of the tower’s 58 bathrooms – one for each floor – are covered in water-resistant Parklex Wet Internal Walnut wood panels. Combining the elegance of natural wood with high performance, they were painstakingly adapted to meet the needs of the architect.

The environmental features of the Parklex panels will also help the project achieve the desired LEED Gold rating, a high standard of sustainability found throughout the entire Hudson Yards development.

Why Parklex’s moisture-resistant
wood panels were chosen

 

Real wood, natural variation

Because Parklex panels are made from real wood, they offer natural variation in colour and tone. Every panel is different, lending a unique visual aesthetic to any project. In the case of Hudson Yards, a unique finish was achieved after months of thorough research and development by the Parklex technical team.

Highly resistant and maintenance free

But Parklex panels offer much more than visual appeal. Thanks to flame retardants embedded within them, they have Class A protection against surface burning (according to the ASTM E84 standard test method).

They’re also moisture-resistant, making them perfect for humid conditions and areas that come into frequent contact with water.

The surface composition of Parklex panels mean they require no maintenance, giving them lifelong protection against heat, humidity, moisture and everything in between.

Professional service, expert knowledge

With more than 50 years of industry experience, we’re well aware of the challenges faced by architects and construction companies in projects such as this. That’s why it required our expert knowledge, professional service and 100% commitment to see it through to completion.

We provided fast and reliable answers to the client’s queries throughout the process, demonstrating our industry expertise and technical know-how from start to finish.
As we’ll explore in the next section, we also went to extraordinary lengths to produce the perfect type of wooden finish that the architect and the project demanded.

 
Interview with Aritz Arcelus,
Plant Manager at Parklex 

  • How were the wooden veneers for each room selected?

    The selection process was more thorough than usual. It began by purchasing the walnut wood veneers in a special measurement, but with our customary quality and colour parameters. Of the 900 veneers purchased, only 767 were selected. They were classified by tone and grain type, making for a total of 177 sequential groups. These groups were then distributed all through the building’s 104 bathrooms. The client requested that there be uniform colour, but no repeated grain.

  • What are the walnut veneer's characteristics, and why was it chosen?

    Its main characteristic is the intense, dark brown colour. This is unlike other veneers we might know, such as oak, beech, and eucalyptus. The shape or grain of walnut veneer is rarely a rift-cut straight grain; it normally has very different figures and shapes, called cathedrals. For this project, 90% of grained veneers were selected.

  • What special treatment was applied to the wood to make it moisture-resistant?

    The technology that makes our wood moisture-resistant is the transparent film placed on the top part of the veneer. This film is a 6 mm paper soaked in melamine resin that goes through rollers so it can be handled. The film has several duties. One of them is to protect in the event of contact with any substance. It also protects against moisture. On the bottom part of the veneer is another resin-soaked paper, creating a protective sandwich on both sides.

  • How were the panels shipped to the USA?

    This was a unique shipment, planned to guarantee proper installation. Fifty-two boxes/pallets (one per floor) were shipped. They contained a package for the women’s bathroom, and another for the men’s. This guaranteed that each group of panels was installed in the proper location, with no room for error.

  • How long did the entire process last, and how would you describe it?

    This was a commission that required approximately 2 months of methodical work. We had to create new dynamics for the selection, classification, production, and shipment of our products. But this meticulousness in the process is what led Foster & Partners to select us once again for their projects, so it was worth it, and we are very pleased with the result.

How we achieved the perfect wood finish with colorimetry

Our client’s vision was for the panels to have a specific colour finish. Although this was outside of our normal product range, and knowing that this shade was impossible to recreate without additional treatments, our technical team travelled to Valencia, Spain, to find the perfect wood veneer.

Having selected a wood veneer that would meet the requirements, we prepared samples, measured the colour of them with a colorimeter and sent them to the client to evaluate.

Along with the newly-created shade of wood, we also presented a more standard shade to the studio. After careful deliberation, the architects decided to use the standard shade for the project.

Colorimetry scatter map

This map shows the work that was required to achieve the perfect tone of wood. Thousands of samples were compared, with each dot representing the colour of each one.

The section marked ‘USA’ represents the samples that featured the desired tone of the client. These samples were the ones we eventually shipped to the United States.

The map shows the lengths that Aritz and his team went to meet the needs of the architecture studio. Our knowledge of wood and technical expertise mean we’re highly flexible when it comes to finding the perfect size, shape or shade of wood for any project.

How the panels were shipped to the USA

To deliver the panels to the USA, we separated them into 58 different groups – one per bathroom. We also included instructions with each group on where each panel should be placed in the room. This was to ensure a uniform look across all of the bathrooms in the tower.



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