Introduced as an “entirely new class” of hotel by Ian Schrager, Public, which opened officially on October 11, is the tweaked reincarnation of the 1926 landmark, The Ambassador East, with its fabled Pump Room designed by Samuel Marx in 1938. To achieve the “sincere chic” aesthetic that Schrager is striving for in his latest affordable luxury brand, he maintained the original neo-classical moldings and grand proportions of the lobby, which is painted a “no-color” white and contemporized with limestone-tinted “hand-poured” concrete floors. Furnishings are a trifecta of classic-minimal-modern comfort, and reception desks are mirror-polished stainless steel a la Anish Kapoor’s Millennium Park sculpture and lined with Yves Klein blue. There are Dan Flavin-inspired touches, too, but it’s not necessary to be an art curator to enjoy the un-look look.
Where the old Pump Room was an extravagant floor to ceiling swirl of white plaster—a suitably theatrical backdrop for the celebrity clientele making an entrance—Schrager’s updated interpretation is pitched to a lower key, with wide-plank oak floors and oak tabletops on bronze bases, Italian leather, and white-gold leafed walls. The big gesture, designed by Dilmore Studio from Milan, is a light installation made of 500 cast resin balls suspended from iron pipes. Not only is it a glamorous, glowing mood light, it also gracefully copes with the vast 18-foot ceilings.