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Monday, November 23, 2009

Andre Balaz -The Standard Hotel - Home away from any home

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When it comes to chic boutique hotels and designer condos - Andre Balazs rules the roost. He has collected the creme de creme of the design world to create his vision. He has put the Chateau Marmont,The Mercer, The Standard in Miami, Hollywood and He employed Jean Nouvel for 40 Mercer, Richard Gluckman for Kenmare, and Calvin Tsao for William Beaver House in Wall Street. His latest creation is the Standard in the meatpacking district where he hired Polshek. This particular structure was a masterful work in part because of its location - straddling the elevated in one of Manhattans most stylish neighborhood - the meat packing district, home to galleries, fashion boutiques, and a host of fantastic restaurants, bars, and clubs. This hyper modern structure has stunning views not only of the hudson but also of all of Manhattan because it has no neighbors to speak of. The vertical tower embodies the cold modern of the 1950' s international style but has elements of warmth to soften it. The roof terraces provide a secondary platform from which to view the city. The latest trend - provide the cool minimal modern structure in the hip new locale and like magic the hot young jet setters will soon follow. - Ecomanta

It’s hard to think of a hotel that has generated as much buzz as the Standard. The owner, André Balazs (who runs sister hotels in Los Angeles and Miami Beach), hired Polshek Partnership Architects to create a concrete and glass slab on stilts, an architectural tour de force that has fascinated motorists along the West Side of Manhattan. But what of the interiors? The public spaces — including a restaurant and beer garden at ground level and bars and a lounge on the top two floors of the hotel - only the visitors, which is most likely be young and chic, will truly know. The rooms, it turns out, have a lot to recommend them. And during the soft opening (with about two-thirds of the 337 rooms in service), $195 covers not just accommodations but breakfast for two, with a view.


Every room has views of the Hudson River and either Midtown or Lower Manhattan. Yet despite the near-waterfront location, the Standard doesn’t feel remote. Most of the meatpacking district hot spots are in shouting distance. And the proximity of Eighth Avenue and 14th Street means subway and bus options are many. The High Line, the city’s newest park, which is scheduled to open this spring, is (literally) under the hotel.


A compact rectangle with floor-to-ceiling windows at one end. But the small space manages to hold an extremely comfortable queen bed with perfect reading lights for two; a banquette that wraps around an oblong table (ingeniously adjustable to the right height for eating, working or game-playing); a flat-screen TV set in a wooden box, so you’re not looking at wires or clamps; and a hutch containing a minibar and the ingredients for margaritas, cosmos and mojitos. It’s all in a cheerful mod style.


The toilet has its own cubicle; the rest of the bathroom opens onto the bedroom. That means you can see out while you’re showering or shaving. But openness has its downside: In our case, a room service delivery arrived when one of us was in the shower. And, because the bathroom doesn’t have a door, the entire room steamed up as soon as the hot water was turned on. (Through fogged windows, the stunning view became a dripping mess.) And the shower is in a wide, deep tub, which requires careful entrances and exits. But there’s nothing to hold on to except for a flimsy glass partition — which seems like a recipe for disaster.


For dinner, we ordered a couple of entrees, plus soup and a simple dessert. Every single item was terrific, including the delectable roast chicken, beautifully cooked salmon with asparagus, and apple fennel soup. And the prices were dirt cheap by hotel standards ($12 to $14 for entrees). A continental breakfast — included in the room rate during the soft opening — arrived in just 10 minutes. True, there was no tea bag for the “tea,” and no cream for the coffee, but both problems were promptly corrected.


When the hotel is finished this summer, the free breakfast and the pleasure of getting here before the hordes will vanish. As long as you’re comfortable in a small space — and make allowances for the multi-dysfunctional shower — the soft opening is hard to beat. Doubles from $195.

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Todd Schliemann/Polshek Partnership Architects — Rising 20 stories above the once-miry Meatpacking District on Manhattan’s West Side, the recently opened New York branch of the Standard Hotels offers some brazen contradictions. Designed by Polshek Partnership design partner Todd Schliemann for boutique hotel impresario André Balazs, the robust concrete structure lightly spans the High Line park. And while the hotel’s form is thoroughly contemporary, it begs comparison to the city’s modernist icons. “?‘Heroic’ is exactly the right word to describe it,” juror Aaron Betsky said. “Here is a building that makes the kind of sculptural urban gesture that we haven’t seen in Manhattan since the UN Building.”

Yet the project isn’t limited by the purism of previous eras. Its façade inflects slightly, distinguishing the hotel from its neighbors. The kink in the plan also enabled the architects to squeeze in more rooms, 337 in all.

The building’s monumentality comes from a massive structural system that raises the tower 57 feet off the ground: a concrete pier (5 feet thick by 50 feet wide and 60 feet tall) paired with five 2-foot-by-6-foot columns. Fourteen-foot-deep steel trusses allow the hotel to straddle the High Line, thanks to a floating easement.

At ground level, the architects created a nuanced entry experience. Sequences of public spaces (the entrance plaza) and semi-public ones (dining patios for the restaurant, lounge, and beer garden) spill out from the base of the hotel. “It’s so rare to see hospitality architecture actually be this restrained and inventive at the same time,” juror Ellen Dunham-Jones noted. “It’s very urban.”

Text by Mimi Zeiger Via