Online Exclusive - Conrad New YorkSep 19, 2012
Ideally situated along the Battery Park waterfront, the all-suite Conrad New York is New York's first property from the Hilton's luxury brand. “Our challenge was to identify what needed to be changed to give them the identity they were looking for,” says Josh Chaiken, design principal at KPF, the project's executive architects. Rather than completely re-clad the building's exterior, for instance, the firm “selectively excavated parts of the façade,” Chaiken says, “and replaced it with new storefronts.”
The way the ground floor “relates to the neighborhood, with the addition of new retail and restaurants [three courtesy of celeb restaurateur Danny Meyer] was a key part of differentiating this hotel from the previous one,” adds Lloyd Sigal, principal at KPF.
Inside, the lobby underwent even more freshening—it bears a resemblance to, but is startlingly different from, its previous incarnation. Much of the credit goes to Monica Ponce de Leon (offices in New York, Boston, and Ann Arbor), whose brief was to expand the public realm of the existing lobby so even residents and office workers using the neighborhood could enjoy it.
First, Ponce de Leon ripped out a small escalator and narrow staircase, replacing them with two much wider entry staircases of Italian granite. “The idea was to echo the presence and shape of something like Rome's Piazza di Spagna,” she says. She also softened the atrium by adding a lighting installation, rounding out the space's layers of straight-edged balconies with fiberglass, and rehanging Sol LeWitt's iconic wall drawing Loopy Doopy (Blue and Purple) to give it greater prominence.
Ponce de Leon was also charged with crafting the hotel's extensive conference space, which is accessed via a suspended, cage-like walnut staircase, and the in-house restaurant, Atrio. Meanwhile, the meeting rooms and the 463 suites came courtesy of Toronto-based designer Jill Greaves.