Ted Moudis Associates

Ted Moudis Associates

New York, NY | Chicago, IL


Gemological Institute of America New York City

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the world’s foremost authority on diamonds, colored stones and pearls, moved their New York City operations into a single campus in the new International Gem Tower. The skyscraper, located in the center of Midtown Manhattan’s Diamond District, features a remarkable undulating glass design by Skidmore, Owings, & Merrill. GIA had been functioning within two different spaces; one for their educational institution and another for their research and gem grading laboratories. Ted Moudis Associates designed their new campus, which integrates their laboratory, research, and educational facilities into a new state-of-the-art 80,000 square feet space spread over three adjoining floors.

Visually the key was to convey a sense of stability, confidence, and trust, acknowledging GIA’s history and cultural traditions while at the same time designing a cutting edge facility representative of their standing as industry leader. The organization’s love of gemstones is reflected throughout the space, with angular and faceted forms and a sophisticated natural color palette conveying a sense of solidity and longevity. Washed walnut wood millwork, wood and marble floors, antique-bronze finishes, and a range of natural materials and textures help to create a tranquil and contemplative work environment for researchers, graders, students and the rest of GIA’s team members. Throughout the entirety of the space, 14 vitrines highlight stunning gems and jewelry from GIA’s collection. Glass walls feature backlight strips of vivid colors representative of five particular types of gemstones.

Visitors to GIA are greeted by a striking reception area on the 4th floor with marble flooring, a backlit 21-foot Italian Onyx desk, and an educational video display that utilizes frameless technology to give the impression of floating on glass. The custom-designed area rug contains a subtly woven pattern of diamonds. The 4th floor also contains general office space, most of which is open plan. Although there are a small number of private offices, the GIA is moving forward with a flatter organizational hierarchy. The connecting staircase between the 4th and 5th floors features an antique bronze finish and three pedestals supporting large jasper specimens from Madagascar.

Two secure laboratory facilities are housed on the 5th floor. The G. Robert Crowningshield Gemological Research Laboratory’s resides in a certified ISO Level 8 Clean Room. The air is kept purified in order to create a consistent environment for gemological research, free from outside elemental interference or disturbance. The other laboratory houses the gemological grading, service, and identification teams and was painstaking planned in order to maximize spacing efficiencies, maintain a clean and consistent environment, and provide a professional, safe, and relaxing workspace for team members. The laboratory consists of white and cream tones and organic soft materials, including a strikingly crafted stone wall. Raised flooring houses all of the cabling and utilities while providing for future real estate flexibility. Bench seating provides a more communal and collegial atmosphere than the previous, more arbitrary, seating arrangement. Every aspect of the laboratory spaces was researched and planned for with tremendous care, and the standards set in this design will be carried out to GIA’s other facilities across the globe.

Careful consideration was taken when working with the lighting consultant in order to provide team members with a level of light that would balance the darkness needed for gem grading with the visibility required for health and comfort. A backlit ceiling with an adjustable dimmer provides flexibility and adjustability, and blackout shades are used to ensure that rogue light does not interfere with the grading process.

While the education facility is located on its own floor, students are now able to tour the research facilities in to gain a better understanding of gemological research. The eight classrooms, two of which are dedicated to the jewelry arts, feature glass fronts and a wall wrapped in wood veneer. The study lounge was designed with angled; undulating furnishings, and a beautifully textured stone clad wall. The scope-like lighting fixtures hanging from the ceiling represent the microscopes that are so essential to the study of gems. A fully integrated A/V system can display content from internal as well as external sources and connects the campus to GIA’s other facilities across the globe.

We designed a café and terrace, which in addition to providing a space for staff to gather and socialize is also able to host special events like graduation ceremonies. The elevator enclosure in the center of the café is encased in a backlit and brilliantly blue detail photograph of a gem, adding a sparkling splash of color to the space. The space was designed to meet LEED Gold Standards, with more than 30,000 energy efficient LED lights and water-efficient fixtures saving more than 140,000 gallons of water annually. It features a fully integrated round-the-clock security system.

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Status: Built
Location: New York, NY, US
Firm Role: Architect and Interior Designer
Additional Credits: General Contractor – JT Magen
MEP – Thorton Tomassetti
Expediter – Metropolis