Ice Falls is a captivating cast glass water feature through which all building users pass, immersing them in a sublime experience of sound and light.


The new Hearst headquarters preserves the original building’s six storey façade adding a one storey high clerestory and glass roof, through which the Foster and Partners’ 46 storey Hearst Tower emerges. The building articulates a unique layering of old and new and JCDA was tasked with designing an element that would enhance the occupant’s experience of spanning the resulting shift in architectural language, and the significant space between the entrance lobby and the upper lobby, where the tower’s occupants access the elevators.

Acting like a periscope, cast glass prisms capture the light from above and project it out towards the street with a luminous, cascading plane of glass and water, suffusing the space with sparkling light and ambient sounds.

Reinforcing Foster’s innovations the water feature is fed by the roof’s rain catchment system and chilled as part of a primary cooling strategy, while the pattern created by the placement of the cast glass prisms and accent blocks extend the tower’s diagonal grid structure.

The Ice Falls transforms the building’s threshold into one of the most extraordinary public spaces in New York. Beyond the sheer visual and audible pleasure, the Ice falls becomes an ecological cooling device as the water is cooled to a temperature well below the ambient room temperature, condensing humidity in the air on its surface, while radiating cooler air to produce a more comfortable environment.


Client: Hearst Corporation
Architect: Foster + Partners / Adamson Associates Architects