Situated in New York‘s historic Meat Packing District, Ennead Architects were given an opportunity to create a major landmark hotel that anchors the cities iconic highline; a former 75year old raised railway line that now lives it’s life as a public park in the sky.
The rectilinear glass and concrete form of the hotel rises from street level on massive sculptural concrete piers, with the main body of the hotel straddling the highline so people walk directly under the hotel.
Ennead created a pivot in the plan as the highline punches through it which gives a nice reference back to its relationship with the park as well as offering more unique views out from the hotel depending which part of the building you are in.
Teaming up with the ever daring Roman and Williams, the interiors were always going to special. During the design conception the Principles Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch told the client Andre Balasz:
“The spaces would ascend through the building in a progression of eras, from 19th century into the future. They imagined how guests would feel, and how, upon entering the hotel they’d be transported into a timeless dream….. the experience would be about escape, coming out of yourself and becoming anybody you want to be.”
This idea of being transported into a different time is no better conveyed than through the guests arrival. The reception is like a sexy and sophisticated scene from Tron, with mirrored ceilings, psychedelic onyx reception desks, futuristic lighting. The high gloss surfaces create reflected worlds, and the geometric screens help both direct the eye to specific focal points and control circulation.
As you move through the ‘alien landscape’ with its course black stone walls, futuristic sculptures and polished marble floors, you are taken through to the main lift lobby. Star like lighting and dark reflective walls further add to the idea of escaping, potentially to another universe.
The final and evocative tool RW use to free the guests from their own reality is a twisted and surreal video scene during the lift sequence, as if you are transversing to another dimension.
By the time the guests arrives at their bedroom door, they should have well and truly forgotten they are in New York, or even planet earth for that matter…. yet this is what makes the rooms and their full wall of windows so dramatic, to forget where you came from and then given a full blown panoramic view of Manhattan or the Hudson River is something else.
Even on the lower floors you’re still 20m above street level, so the surprise and reconnection back to the city is all the more overwhelming.
The 337 guestrooms themselves are warm, with a mid Century feel, and as with all RW designs there is a high degree of craftsmanship. The layouts are unique with a timber slatted bath area to one side of the vestibule, with the WC and vanity on the other. The Bedroom element itself has a lounge area and bed with a tambour wooden headboard that wraps up into the ceiling.
The curved edges to the room, the rounded mirror, and retro banquet and seat are very different to the forms of the public areas, they are deliberately more comforting, familiar and welcoming. There’s a certainly sense of nostalgia in the guestrooms and this aids in relaxing guests.
Roman and Williams wanted the interior decor to contrast with the harsh and utilitarian exterior, to soften your experience.
The bathrooms move back to the futuristic idea and are adorned in black gloss tiles, with chrome sanitary fittings and white single surface vanity and counter top. The bath is also wide enough to fit two people side by side which gives a luxurious touch to the space. The timber slats give you enough privacy while allowing you glimpses of the city skyline through the bedroom window.
Also benefitting from the glorious views of the city is The Standards; Le Bain Bar, it’s interiors have a synergy with the guestroom materiality, timber clad columns and bar, mid century style cream banquet seating curve through the space like the contours of a landscape. The focus point being it’s sculptural island bar which illuminates like a magical tree during the evenings. Gold ceilings and accents across the interior give some decadence to the space.
The exterior of Le Bain, is one of the best roof terraces in the city. Fake grass, brightly coloured loose plastic seating create a fresh and fun vibe and the view is something else.
The other signature food and beverage offering is The Standard grille. Located on the ground floor, it’s routed in another era altogether than the rest of interiors. Like a European beer hall, it’s rich red chesterfield booth seating, vaulted tiled ceiling and timber clad walls jar completely with the futuristic public areas you enter from. Even the exterior is much more traditional, yet this makes for a visually interesting and diverse square for which the restaurant and hotel reception both wrap around.
Enneads dynamic form and Roman and Williams time transversing interiors make for a truly exciting hotel. The Standard dared to be different and has succeeded in doing so, the interiors are stylish yet thought provoking and because of this, the diverse and trendy people it attracts make for a very special destination.