Today, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts submitted designs for a revamped and restored Waldorf Astoria New York to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for review. Global architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and Paris-based interior designer Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR) are leading the restoration. “We are at an exciting and transformative point in Waldorf Astoria’s renowned history, during which time Waldorf Astoria New York will be restored to its original grandeur while maintaining a modern and inspirational look and feel,” said John T. A. Vanderslice, global head, Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts, in a press release. Earlier this month the LPC voted to designate several major interiors in the Waldorf Astoria as landmarks (the exterior was made a historic landmark in 1993.) The move to landmark these interiors came with the news that the Waldorf's new owner, Anbang Insurance Group, aimed to renovate the hotel and convert up to 1,100 of its 1,413 rooms into private apartments and sell them as condominiums. The Chinese holding company originally purchased the hotel for $1.95 billion in 2014. “We have assembled a world-class design team with unparalleled experience restoring and revitalizing historic properties to create a proposed plan that treats the Waldorf Astoria New York’s history with respect and dedication to detail,” said Brandon Dong, Anbang Insurance Group, in a press release. “The restoration of the beautiful landmarked spaces is central to the Waldorf Astoria New York’s future as a New York City icon and global destination.” SOM will be the design architect while PYR will serve as the interior designer of the hotel's public areas and guest rooms. “Protecting the spirit of this iconic property and reflecting its history through a modern, more forward-thinking lens will be at the heart of the hotel’s interior design. From the overall atmosphere down to the finest Art Deco details, American grandeur and international glamour will meet in the Waldorf Astoria New York—no other hotel in New York will compare,” added Pierre-Yves Rochon, principal and global design director, PYR.
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Following an initial hearing in January, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously on March 7th to designate several of the interior spaces of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel as historic landmarks. The move was widely expected and has not stymied the owner’s ambitious plan to renovate the building, a plan which includes converting a majority of the existing 1,413 rooms into condominium apartments. The Anbang Insurance Group released a statement in response to the decision:
Anbang knows the Waldorf Astoria's history is a large part of what makes this hotel so unforgettable. That is why we fully supported the commission's recommendations for designation of the Waldorf Astoria's most important public spaces and applaud the commission on achieving landmark status for them.LPC’s designation protects many of the public spaces throughout the first three floors of the iconic art deco building, including the Park Avenue Lobby, entry hall on the ground level, and the Grand Ballroom on the third level, one of the largest event spaces in the New York City. The designation currently awaits approval by the city council.
The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) held a public hearing this morning to discuss the status of the much-loved interior of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel on Park Avenue. At the meeting, cases for landmarking much of the 1930s art deco interior were made with many speaking passionately about their significance. The hearing comes after owners of the hotel, the Anbang Insurance Group from Beijing, China, announced plans to renovate the building last year. Plans call for gutting 560 hotel rooms and converting them to 321 luxury condos. However, upon hearing the news of the owner's plans—work is due to start this fall—the LPC voted unanimously in November to calendar the hotel's interior spaces for consideration. "All of [the interior] spaces are of exceptional design and character. We strongly believe that the protection, designation, and restoration of these important art deco interiors is a critical part of preserving New York City's rich history of architectural design and style—especially the city's art deco monuments," said Roberta Nusim, president of the Art Deco Society of New York (ADSNY). "The interior design of the Waldorf Astoria exemplifies a period of New York life that was extraordinarily important to the growth of the city's image," she continued. "The Waldorf Astoria's interiors hold significance as being one of the finest surviving examples of art deco, classic modernist design." Nusim also added that the ADSNY had received more than 700 signatures from across the globe (a testament to the hotel's international status) calling for the interior's designation. Local officials, including City Councilperson Dan Garodnick, have also expressed their support of the motion. Under review for designation were the Park Avenue foyer and colonnade, the West Lounge (“Peacock Alley”), the East Arcade, the Lexington Avenue stairs, assorted lobbies and vestibules, the Ballroom entrance hall, and the famous Grand Ballroom. The ballroom hosts many high-profile events, including the Al Smith dinner that serves as comedic relief each presidential election season as the two candidates take light-hearted jabs at each other. Most of the spaces are publicly accessible, too. Landmarking them will ensure the renowned hotel maintains its standing as an architectural must-see for tourists and locals alike. A decision is due to be made, though a date for this is yet to be decided. Meanwhile, the interior rework should be finished by 2020. Last year, the company issued a statement declaring their support for the LPC's decision:
Anbang knows the Waldorf’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so special. That’s why we fully support the LPC’s recommendation for what would be one of the most extensive interior landmark designations of any privately owned building in New York. These designations are consistent with our vision and will protect the Waldorf’s significant public spaces. We are now finalizing renovation plans for the Waldorf that preserve these spaces and will ensure that the Waldorf will provide memorable experiences for generations to come. We look forward to sharing our plans publicly when they are complete.This article appears on HoverPin, a new app that lets you build personalized maps of geo-related online content based on your interests: architecture, food, culture, fitness, and more. Never miss The Architect’s Newspaper’s coverage of your city and discover new, exciting projects wherever you go! See our HoverPin layer here and download the app from the Apple Store.
The Waldorf Astoria hotel is one of the most important works of art deco architecture in New York City. Its interior spaces, designed in 1929 by Schultze & Weaver, embody the spirit of the Jazz Age architecture that captured the city in the 1920s. The exterior was landmarked in 1993. Today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted unanimously to calendar the interior spaces for designation, most of which are part of the block-long network of interiors. The new designation could protect the large spaces and connecting hallways, many of which are publicly accessible. Putting the interiors on the calendar is the first official step in the landmarking process. Chinese holding company Anbang Insurance Group purchased the building for $1.95 billion in 2014 and is looking to invest up to $1 billion more for a major renovation that could transform the hotel into luxury residential apartments. The building is scheduled to close for renovations from spring 2017 until 2020. In a statement released today, Anbang declared its support for the LPC's move:
Anbang knows the Waldorf’s history is a large part of what makes this hotel so special. That’s why we fully support the LPC’s recommendation for what would be one of the most extensive interior landmark designations of any privately owned building in New York. These designations are consistent with our vision and will protect the Waldorf’s significant public spaces. We are now finalizing renovation plans for the Waldorf that preserve these spaces and will ensure that the Waldorf will provide memorable experiences for generations to come. We look forward to sharing our plans publicly when they are complete.The spaces under review include the Park Ave foyer and colonnade, the West Lounge (a.k.a. “Peacock Alley”), the East Arcade, the Lexington Avenue stairs, assorted lobbies and vestibules, the Ballroom entrance hall, and the famous Grand Ballroom. The ballroom hosts many high-profile events, including the Al Smith dinner that serves as comedic relief each presidential election season as the two candidates take light-hearted jabs at each other. The decadent architectural details inside represent an early embrace of the Machine age, even if in a “superficial way,” as described Marianne Lamonaca, author of Grand Hotels of the Jazz Age, a 2005 book about New York’s remarkable hotels of the era. "This is one of the most distinctive interiors in the city," Commissioner Frederick Bland explained. "In Delirious New York, Rem Koolhaas writes a whole chapter on this extraordinary city within a city. I always encourage my students to visit this sequence of spaces. That is what make this so special to me. It is public, or nearly public. To walk on that main axis, entering from Park Avenue, and ending up down a level on Lexington is wonderful. It is probably my favorite interior in all of New York. The fact that it is not landmarked already is really horrifying. This is a delightful day for me."
A major renovation is in the works for the iconic Waldorf Astoria hotel, which will be gutted and converted primarily to luxury apartments over a three-year period. The building will close for renovations starting in spring 2017 until 2020. While the exact details of the renovation haven’t been revealed, The Wall Street Journal reports that the hotel’s owner Anbang Insurance Group plans to convert up to 1,100 of the hotel’s 1,413 rooms into private apartments and sell them as condominiums. The other 300-500 rooms will also be upgraded but will remain in use by the hotel. Until recently, a similar plan was in place for the Sony Tower on Madison Avenue, but the building was sold to owners who scrapped a scheme to build luxury apartments in favor of offices. The Waldorf Astoria is one of the world’s most famous hotels, and has been synonymous with luxury since opening in 1931. The architecture firm Schultze & Weaver designed the Art Deco style building in the late 1920s, after the hotel’s original building was torn down to make way for the Empire State Building. High-profile tenants have included Marilyn Monroe, Winston Churchill, and Douglas MacArthur; currently there are fewer than 200 suites available for monthly rental. The hotel is a popular destination for celebrities and others looking for a luxury stay in New York. Anbang Insurance Group will invest up to $1 billion in the renovation. The Chinese holding company purchased the hotel for $1.95 billion in 2014, making it the most expensive hotel sale in history.