In August the London creative club Soho House set up shop in Chicago, carving out a chic space for itself amid the city's hotel, dining and cocktail scenes by retrofitting an industrial building in the Fulton Market District. Designers touted the balance of “grit and glamor” in the new Soho House at the time, beckoning self-identifying creative types to the former belting factory at 113-125 North Green Street. With the launch of its first annual “art week” in January, Soho House announced itself as somewhat of a gallery, as well, unveiling a site-specific installation by Damien Hirst. Hirst, the wildly successful London artist and development dabbler, created for Soho House Chicago a “painting” made of butterflies, mounted behind frosted glass that outlines the word “CHICAGO”. It hangs 15 feet or so above the heads of guests sipping cocktails or checking into Soho House's hotel. Hirst's previous work with butterflies—famously letting them live their lives inside an art gallery—has garnered international attention, as well as a fair share of criticism from animal rights advocates. Museum of Contemporary Art Associate Curator Julie Rodriguez Widholm welcomed the piece, noting that Soho House and MCA shared an appetite for modern and contemporary art, having both previously shown work by artists like Rashid Johnson and Angel Otero.
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This week an already roiling real estate market in Chicago's West Loop got hotter still. The latest entrant is a $400 million mixed-use tower designed by Goettsch Partners—a 350-room, four-star hotel beneath about 600,000 square feet of offices that will surely stoke the continued evolution of the area from post-industrial grittiness into a sleek, high-rent hub for technology companies and haute cuisine. Crain's Chicago Business reported Florida-based developer Joseph Mizrachi will further thicken an already competitive field of downtown office space, building on his 2012 acquisition of a 1.1 million-square-foot office tower at 540 West Madison Street. His group, Third Millennium Partners, hopes to start work by mid-2015 on a 1.2 million-square-foot building just to the west, at 590 West Madison Street. Goettsch Partners' design is restrained, concealing its luxury hotel rooms and undoubtedly high-tech offices in tranquil planes of glass, scored with white mullions that stripe the building's bifurcated mass vertically.
As for the crowded market, Crain's says Mizrachi enjoys an advantage over the competition:
Because the foundation already was poured for the new building years ago when a second office tower was planned, the new tower can be built in as little as 20 months, giving Mizrachi's plan an advantage over some competitors, [J.F. McKinney & Associates Executive Vice President Mark] Gunderson said. Work could begin with as little as 200,000 square feet of office space leased in advance, he said.It also might compete by offering office rents slightly lower than its neighbors, which include 52 and 53 story towers from developers Hines Interests and John O'Donnell.
Winter months in the Benelux countries are not known for blue skies and bright sun. So perhaps there's an altruistic underpinning to the design of the new 59-room Pantone Hotel in Brussels. Did architect Olivier Hannaert and interior designer Michel Pennemann seek to lift the seasonally-depressed spirits of the populace through the colorful palette? We'd like to think so, although the relentless branding campaign by the client raises a smidgen of doubt. To wit: The Pantone roller bag won't get lost in the sea of black Tumi bags on the luggage carousel. Trundle down the hall, and find your color-coded room: Key fobs graphically remind you where you are—if that's necessary: Once inside, the bed linens resemble a color chip; the walls, even more so: Room service! Maybe a spot of tea will help you feel at home: Expecting visitors? Invite them to pull up a chair: Unpacked, it's time to go explore the city. What better means of transportation—conveniently available through the front desk—could there possibly be, to best appreciate the local architecture than a two-wheeled color swatch? And in case you've forgotten a toiletry essential, never fear—Pantone is here (and increasingly everywhere).
[ Editor's Note: The following comment was left on archpaper.com in response to our Unveiled on the Gensler-designed Alessandra Hotel in Houston (AN 03_04.30.2014_SW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ] “Glass ceilings permit guests in the lobby to see through to the top floor restaurant.” That lobby will become the biggest gentlemen’s club in Houston. Bill Wood Rangeview High School
Mexico City's posh Polanco neighborhood is now home to the recently redesigned Living Rooms of the W Mexico City. Part of a larger $100 million campaign to update its hotels across North America, the W asked New York City–based nemaworkshop, a firm that has been known to—quite literally—turn design on its head, to bring a sense of mystery and illusion to the hotel's common spaces. Guests are greeted by a translucent and inverted glass pyramid as soon as they enter the lobby, which holds secret messages that can only be seen at night. Surrounding the pyramid, a ring of seats take the form of eerie masks when seen from the rear. In a VIP lounge nearby, colorful laser-cut screens provide privacy while maintaining a connection with the larger space and surrounding neighborhood through an expansive glass facade. At the central bar, guests can look up to a ceiling of shifting waves generated by the reflective surfaces covering the ceiling, meant to give the illusion that one is in the midst a sea of moving water. Elsewhere, an unexpected tequila bar is set inside a dimly-lit bathroom. Reflective surfaces are paired with natural stones, rippling metals, and sleek geometric walls and carpets to create a series of visual effects throughout the new space. The lobby, which had not been updated since 2001, is now filled with colorful artwork and puzzling arrangements that pay homage to Mexico City’s rich history and create a series of illusions for visitors. Nemaworkshop is also working on updating the hotel's guestrooms, which will be revealed later.
Chinese real estate developers Wanda Commercial Properties announced Wednesday plans to build an 89-story mixed-use tower in Chicago’s Lakeshore East neighborhood that would unseat Aon Center as the city’s third tallest building. At approximately 1,150 feet tall, the tower at 375 E. Wacker Dr. would be among the tallest buildings in Chicago. AN reached out to Alderman Brendan Reilly’s office to confirm the announcement, which was reported in the Wall Street Journal and Chicago Architecture Blog Tuesday, but so far our calls have not been returned. A spokesman for Lakeshore East developer Magellan Properties declined to comment. Chinese news agency Sina reported the building will house a five-star hotel and apartments, and is expected to open in 2018. Along with a retail component, that should total 1.4 million square feet of space, according to Chicago Architecture Blog. The designer is still unspecified, but a rendering from Wanda Group shows three staggered volumes constructed from stacked frustums, or cut-off pyramid shapes. If built, it would occupy the lot adjacent to the new GEMS World Academy building, designed by bKL Architecture. The Beijing-based company, commonly called Wanda Group, is known in the U.S. for buying cinema chain AMC Entertainment Holdings, and has amassed dozens of hotels and department stores in China. The $900 million Chicago project would be the first step in what Wanda Group Chairman Wang Jianlin said will be a big move into U.S. real estate. "Investing in Chicago property is just Wanda's first move into the U.S. real estate market," Jianlin said in a statement, "Within a year, Wanda will invest in more five-star hotel projects in major U.S. cities like New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco. By 2020, Wanda will have Wanda branded five-star hotels in 12–15 major world cities and build an internationally influential Chinese luxury hotel brand." We’ll update this post as more information becomes available.
Construction has started on two towers set to rise in the BAM Cultural District in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. Unlike most new projects in the area, one of the buildings to rise off Flatbush Avenue, a 32-story structure designed by Brooklyn-based architect Thomas Leeser, will not be luxury apartments, but a 200-room boutique hotel run by Marriot. The tower is one of the most architecturally distinct high-rises to arrive in Brooklyn in quite some time, with prominent, asymmetrical carve-outs along its glass facade that make it appear as if someone—or something—has slashed through its skin with a knife. The hotel includes a performance space in the basement, a bar on the roof, and a restaurant at ground level that overlooks a new public plaza. The hotel is sited between the H3 Hardy-designed Theatre for a New Audience, which opened last year, and a mixed-use, 27,000-square-foot project designed by Dattner and SCAPE. Nearby on the corner of Flatbush and Lafayette avenues, Enrique Norten of TEN Arquitectos is building another 32-story tower on a wedge-shaped lot. According to AN's earlier reporting, that tower "includes approximately 50,000-square-feet of creative and cultural space that will be shared by BAM, 651 ARTS, and the Brooklyn Public Library. In addition, the tower will include approximately 23,000-square-feet of ground-level retail, as well as approximately 300 to 400 apartments, 20 percent of which will be affordable." Adjacent to the tower is a 16,000-square-foot plaza.
It is only fitting that a crowdfunded hotel slated for New York City has a crowdsourced design as well. For its new, extended-stay hotel at 17 John Street, developer Prodigy Network, along with design blog PSFK, launched the Prodigy Design Lab, which allowed designers from around the world to submit plans for the project's interior spaces and digital services. After 70 submissions were received and 10,000 votes cast, three winners have been announced. "The winners of the 17John competition were intuitive to the needs of travelers, creative in the interactive spaces and understood the function of extended stay residences,” Rodrigo Nino, the founder and CEO of Prodigy Network, said in a statement. “This will be one of many design competitions presented to the crowd and we look forward to empowering those with the greatest ideas.” These three plans, which were selected by a jury from the ten finalists, represent three categories: private space, communal space, and digital experience. The winning private space design, "Weco, The Nomad Company" by Vianney Lacotte creates a live-work environment with space for entertaining and storage. For public space, "Hub" creates a wood-paneled reception area, fitness center, rooftop terrace, and communal workspace that looks like just about any startup company. And the "Deeply Integrated Services for the New Type of Hotel" proposal is an app meant to to better connect a guest with the hotel. Playing up the project's cooperative nature, the developer described this project as the "World’s First Cotel,” which is designed to “to meet the changing needs of the modern business traveler and through its innovative design will foster wellness, connectivity and efficiency.” The $31 million Cotel will transform an existing 1920’s apartment building with a multi-story glass addition designed by Winka Dubbeldam. According to Prodigy's website, "accredited investors can purchase REPs (Real Estate Participation) in 17John and buy into the project’s operating returns and equity appreciation. The REPs are being sold at $50,000 each." The project is expected to open in 2017. Take a look at the winning designs below.
Peeping Toms, bust out the kazoos. Your field day has arrived—and it comes equipped with party favors. The Shard, designed by Italian architect Renzo Piano, is London’s tallest skyscraper and, as of last week, home to a new luxury hotel. The rooms include breathtaking views of the city—and, thanks to a design flaw, unscrupulous views of unsuspecting neighbors. Glass panels on the Shard’s exterior bestow the building with a crystalline front and its namesake. But at night, the city’s lights turn the glass into mirrors that fully reflect guest bedrooms into each other. Complementary binoculars (“for the view,” ahem) don’t help matters. Nor do puns about the naked eye. Masking a blush? Rest easy—susceptible rooms include shades for extra privacy.
When the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened in 2011, it put the town of Bentonville, Arkansas, on the map for art lovers. Now, a new boutique hotel by Deborah Berke Partners promises to further boost the town’s cultural cachet. Intended to be a destination in its own right, the 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville opened in February 2013, just a quarter-mile from the Moshe Safdie–designed museum. In addition to its 104 guest rooms, the hotel doubles as an art gallery, offering 12,000 square feet of exhibition space. Berke’s restrained architecture serves as a suitable backdrop for exuberant artwork, from psychedelic wallpaper by Brooklyn’s Chris Doyle to life-size, green plastic penguins by the Cracking Art Group. “I really loved making spaces for the work,” said firm founder Deborah Berke, noting that she graduated from RISD and has long been involved with artists. “Doing a hotel where the arts play a key role is a very good fit for me.”
The Arkansas outpost marks the third 21c hotel, all designed by Berke. The hospitality company emerged in 2006, when two art collectors in Kentucky—Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson—commissioned Berke to convert old warehouses in Louisville into a hotel and museum filled with 21st-century art (hence the name 21c). The project was a hit and led to a similar venture in Cincinnati.
The Bentonville location was the first to entail ground-up construction. For the flat, open site, Berke created a simple composition of two distinct, rectilinear volumes. A one-story volume fronts the street and houses public functions (a lobby, restaurant, and exhibition space); behind it, a four-story volume—the town’s tallest building—contains the guest rooms.
White walls and polished concrete floors characterize a series of stripped-down galleries, which are open to the public 24 hours a day. The atmosphere is warmer inside The Hive, a casual restaurant where guests sip coffee by day and cocktails by night. “We really wanted an active bar and restaurant area,” said Berke. A 125-seat dining room contains wooden tables and chairs and soft banquettes. In the lounge, the bar is faced in white brick and topped with indigenous limestone.
The guest rooms are “simple and gracious,” said Berke. Featuring a neutral color palette with dashes of color, the rooms are outfitted with tasteful modern furnishings and original artwork. Co-owner Brown even contributed her own creations, such as photographs of farm animals screen-printed on throw pillows.
Berke emphasized that the hotel’s art program is not some contrived branding experiment. “It’s true to the soul of who these people are,” she said of the owners. “They’re smart, inventive, and delightful to work with, and they believe in what they’re doing.” That passion seems to be paying off. Berke is currently designing 21c Museum Hotels for Lexington, Kentucky, Oklahoma City, and Durham, North Carolina—promising to put more American cities on the cultural map.
Since its founding in 1984, the Rockwell Group has developed a robust portfolio of contemporary spaces imbued with drama. Its latest hotel project, Andaz Maui at Wailea, employs the firm’s signature theatrical style, seamlessly blending it with the magical atmosphere of Hawaii. Completed in September 2013, the resort encompasses 15 acres on Maui’s south shore, an exclusive area known for its five-star hotels and scenic golf courses. The project called for overhauling three existing towers that made up the Renaissance Resort, shuttered in 2007. Rockwell also revamped the grounds and proposed five buildings containing 19 villas. The overall design intent, said firm partner Shawn Sullivan, was to create a luxurious environment that embraced the outdoors and incorporated references to local culture.
The captivating experience begins right as guests arrive. A covered, wooden and stone bridge overlooks a serene reflecting pool and leads to the hotel’s main entrance. Guests are ushered into an 8,000-square-foot lobby, where natural light cascades down through a large skylight and ample glazing offers views of the turquoise ocean.
In the center of the lobby, a sandpit with free-form chairs lends a playful touch. A grand staircase sculpted of wood—inspired by traditional Hawaiian canoes—leads to a bistro serving seasonal cuisine. Other public spaces include a Morimoto restaurant, five meeting rooms, and a ballroom with a bespoke lighting installation made of glass pendants and braided ropes.
For the hotel’s villas and 290 guest rooms, Rockwell created fresh, modern spaces filled with natural light. Custom furnishings include platform beds, walnut side tables, and vanities with teakwood slats. Sliding glass doors open onto terraces that enable guests to take in the breathtaking surroundings.
Those seeking a respite from the sand and surf can get pampered inside a 14,000-square-foot spa. With its warm glow and tall wooden cabinets, the space feels earthy and soothing. In the reception lounge, a walnut table displays herbs, spices, and fruits that are used to prepare customized oils and lotions. “The ingredients come from the local hillside and local markets,” said Sullivan. “We wanted to invent a spa experience that was really specific to Wailea.”
That commitment to honoring the resort’s milieu went a long way toward winning over the locals. Sullivan said area residents praised the design during the hotel’s opening party. “A lot of people were expecting it to be so out-there modern,” he said. “It was rewarding to hear them say the project feels very Hawaiian, even though New York designers created it.”
Christian HoranManhattan’s West 57th Street has drawn considerable attention for the spindly glass skyscrapers now rising there. But set within this crane-dotted corridor is a new 30-story tower that stands apart for its rigor and refinement, both inside and out. Completed last fall, the 240-room Viceroy Hotel was designed by Roman and Williams, the renowned firm behind such influential projects as the Ace Hotel and The Standard, High Line. Founded in 2002, the firm is led by the husband-and-wife team of Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch, former Hollywood film set designers who have a remarkable talent for producing deftly curated, atmospheric spaces. The Viceroy, for which they envisioned the interiors and the facade, marks the duo’s largest project to date.