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32 PROJECT REPORT: HOTELS, RESTAURANTS & BARS


century masonry buildings in New York City.” It added: “The proportions, materials, textures and quality of light we inherited felt a bit like home, and demanded to be exalted.”


Part of that demand came from the fact that the buildings had endured a fairly disastrous renovation in the 1980s, with “no respect for the underlying structure,” says Matthew Grzywinski, founding partner at the studio. Converting the former mill into a boarding house and Indian restaurant, the intervention was a cost-driven ‘cover up’ job that was typical of the time. Despite the fact that the three buildings’ qualities had become hidden, Grzywinski says the C-shaped block they comprise was still regarded by locals as a “marker that you’re in the centre of town.” The architect says it was characterised by acoustic ceilings and drylined walls “just kind of floating in space”. He adds: “It was pretty banal and all financially governed by the least you could do to make a place inhabitable.” The new renovation by contrast was driven by a determination to “preserve and celebrate” the richness of the historic 19th century building fabric while “obliterating” the previous alterations, he says.


The brief from the client included “a couple of dictums about things they wanted to promote,” says Matthew. He explains that these were “an inclusive nature, and a kind of hybridisation of aspirational – a special quality you’d like to have in a boutique hospitality project – and a homeliness,” exemplified in the fact the hotel apartments have their own kitchen facilities. “The idea was you could stay there a day or a couple of months.”


In terms of dealings with the client, Matthew confirms that there was a “nice kind of back and forth,” applying Locke Hotels’ required number of rooms to the idiosyncrasies of old buildings. He says there are benefits for this kind of boutique project: “You’re constrained, but it gives you a reason not to create a really regular grid. That kind of whimsy and discovery – oh I have a turret in my room!”


He says the project was notable for the good relations between the project team and planners. “Quite often, there’s an acrimonious relationship, but in this case, I wanted to do everything they wanted to do.” However, there was a fixed budget, and there were further constraints in terms of discovering issues like a lack of fire stopping in the roof, or plumbing problems that were critical to address.


WWW.ARCHITECTSDATAFILE.CO.UK ADF MAY 2019


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