Don’t be shy. That’s the message of the theatrical Mondrian brand. For its Park Avenue outpost, the team behind the property—led by Joe Faust, president of sbe’s Dakota Development unit—took that mandate beyond just edgy design.
The historic building that houses the 189-key hotel (which is owned by David Moinian and Moin Development and managed by Journal Hotels) needed more than a facelift. It needed a structural revolution—but keeping the 1918 office building façade meant that it had to be a quiet coup from street level.
“The footprint of the existing historic property at the west side was reduced on all existing floor levels,” says Faust. “The square footage from this ‘shaved off’ area was then placed onto the top of the existing building. This created an additional five guest room floors and a roof terrace.”
Adding that space vertically minimized visual disruption to the exterior. But it still didn’t solve the team’s need for more space. So, they dug deep for another option—literally.
“A new sub cellar was also excavated within the existing building. This was a time consuming and very precise process that involved supporting the entire building structure during the excavation and required an entirely new core for the elevators and staircases to be constructed,” says Faust.
Dressing that carefully crafted building meant finding design concepts bold enough to occupy the space. Rock-like elements snake through the lobby, suggesting the “Manhattan Rock” the team had to dig through during excavation. Creating some visual cushion from the street meant bypassing the urban oasis concept for something more in-your-face.
“The lobby is protected from the bustle of New York through the installation of three glass vitrines that hold artwork on unique cable suspended frames,” says Faust. Carrying the design ‘tude through to the guest rooms, a spare color palette serves as a backdrop for vibrant art and bold shapes. Rose gold accents bring the vibe of the NoMad district’s ultra-cool shops into the space. Bespoke city maps on floating desks pay tribute to the locale and the work of the painter who gave the hotel brand its name.
Projects like this speak to the Big Apple’s current craze for melding old and new spaces without hitting “timeless” in the middle. Like a hipster clutching a vinyl record in one hand and a smartphone in the other, who says you have to choose between then and now?
Dakota Development (part of sbe): Joe Faust, president; Robin Mackay, senior project director; Lauren Borisoff, project manager; Vedi Aslanyan, design director
Nobutaka Ashihara Architects