‘Dream Downtown Hotel’ by Handel Architects of New York
Built on a site of significant architectural interest, the ‘Dream Downtown Hotel’ is a magnificent example of modern hotel architecture. This super stylish ‘boutique hotel’ is in the fashionable Chelsea region of New York and was a major redevelopment project by Handel Architects in 2006. The central theme that enlivens the ‘Dream Downtown Hotel’s exterior and interior design is a futuristic abstract interpretation of bubbling water. The associations with the sea and water relate directly to the building’s fascinating history.
The intriguing style of the hotel has links to the 1960’s and also important maritime associations. The new architecture was largely influenced by the original construction and the adjoining ‘Maritime Hotel’, which to cut a long story short, was designed by leading architect Albert C Ledner for the National Maritime Union. Later the buildings were sold and their functions changed.
The ultra contemporary façade has considerable stylistic similarities with the older ‘Maritime Hotel’ and Ledner’s pioneering design. However, this is not an exercise based on nostalgia. The modern hotel architecture is similar in form but a definite leap forward in concept. The whole building is a shiny celebration of metal as a creative construction material. Clad all the way around in reflective stainless steel, Ledner’s original design has been respected but updated.
On the 17th Street façade, polished stainless steel tiles replace the original mosaic tiles of the old Union building. Ledner’s original building had distinctive round porthole windows. This link to the sea and water has been kept in the redevelopment. More small portholes have been added but in an asymmetric manner to add energy to the once rigid facade. The lively composition of circles now has even closer links to the concept of moving water and bubbles.
This simple notion becomes an important design theme throughout ‘Dream Downtown’s modern hotel architecture .The front facade of the hotel, once a completely blank wall. has been transformed with a more regular composition of circular shapes and structures. This time, the double layer stainless steel has been constructed to include round openings onto individual ‘Juliet’ balconies. The impact of this is dramatic and the combination of reflective pierced metal, sparkling glass windows and shadowy balconies is sensational.
The super modern hotel interior design is glitteringly breathtaking. The quality of light has been manipulated to instill the interior with a magical and serene ambience. The designers have applied the circular motif everywhere, but in many different creative manifestations. Once natural light was a problem in this space, but it has now become a fascinating mood enhancing element. Quite drastically, the architects removed four whole floors, to let light into the interior. In the fabulous exterior space that remained they constructed a gloriously peaceful lounging terrace complete with a cool glass bottomed pool. Intriguingly the pool also becomes a surreal interior design feature as guests can view the outside world though the bottom of the pool which is exposed through the ceiling panels.
Another clever variation on the watery theme is encountered in the communal lounge area. Here the pierced stainless steel exterior skin casts wonderful dappled light over the whole space. Combined with the inclusion of luscious indoor plants, and glimpses of greenery seen through the windows, the lounge takes on the appearance of a shady forest glade.
And this is not all, the concept of water and bubbles continues as ‘Handel Architects’ have installed a twinkling array of spectacular hand blown glass globes light fittings which:
“…float through the lobby and congregate over The Marble Lane restaurant filling the space with a magical light cloud.” Quote by the designers.
Every where you travel through this remarkable modern hotel interior design you encounter different configurations of the central circular motif. It never becomes dull as the multiple design compositions are always being rethought and refreshed. Reflections on the stainless steel interior walls and features distort and transform the symbolic bubble shapes into even more weird and wonderful patterns and forms.
Handel architects have introduced mellow and warm wood elements to counteract any tendency of the interior to look cold or mechanical. Also bright artworks and soft furnishings are introduced into the guest rooms to add colorful welcoming highlights to the modern hotel interior design scheme.
One travel agent describes the ‘Dream Downtown Hotel’ as having ‘…. a hip space-oddity theme.’ This is a good interpretation of the ‘Dream’s magical ambience. It would be interesting to know if Albert C Ledner would have approved of the transformation of his pioneering modern building.