Once one of the largest hotels in New York City, the New Yorker Hotel is making a stunning comeback. Restoring the art deco beauty to its former glory, fell to local architecture firm Stonehill & Taylor.
The designers are replacing floral carpets and quilted bedspreads in all 910 guestrooms with contemporary interiors inspired by the various styles of the 1930s architectural movement.
“During conceptualization, we researched the various different meanings of Art Deco,” says Lorraine Knapp, Stonehill & Taylor’s director of interior design. “There was a very big movement in New York, and the city has many significant façades and interiors. Miami is known for pastel colors on stucco façade, and in Hollywood, deco meant something else—dramatic interiors, luxurious furniture and surroundings. We pulled in elements from each one and the design is a hybrid that translates well to the modern business person and all types of travelers.”
“Any opportunity to be a part of such a landmark, an important fixture on the New York skyline, is wonderful,” Knapp continues. “It’s nice to be part of something so recognizable.”
Nearly 70 years ago, the New Yorker Hotel was one of the largest in the city with 2,500 guestrooms, 10 private dining salons, five restaurants and a barbershop. A popular spot among celebrities, the hotel was host to many famous bands during the Big Band era including Benny Goodman, both of the Dorsey’s, as well as Woody Herman. However, the hotel hit hard times in the 1950s and ’60s, and as a result, closed its doors in 1972.
The New Yorker got a second chance when it reopened in 1994; in 2000, it was re-franchised as a Ramada Inn and has slowly increased its room count from 170 to the current 910, of those 64 are suites.
Now, thanks to Stonehill & Taylor, dramatic guestrooms pull in the elegance of 1930s New York and Hollywood with a high contrast color scheme of chocolate brown, gold and silver; zebra wood furniture; skyscraper-style desks; monumental headboards outfitted with button-tufted iridescent upholstered headboards; a brown mohair chair (a scaled-down interpretation of a 1910 Josef Hoffmann original); shimmery curtains; and geometric carpeting.
New lighting comes in the form of brushed stainless steel torchieres with mica shades, dome-topped pull chain desk lamps, and a custom-designed overhead light that creates a Hollywood search light effect in concentrated beams on the ceiling, thanks to its six-point star shape. And in the bathrooms, original tiles have a more subdued green tea color, while a new mirror and shelf made of a back painted glass panel, curved pedestal sinks, and chrome-finish faucets and fittings have been added.
The guestrooms aren’t the only part of the hotel getting a facelift. This year, Stonehill & Taylor is restoring the beautiful, original marble lobby floor, unfortunately disguised by carpet for years. Further improvements to the lobby include adding lounge seating and reconfiguring the three existing crystal chandeliers into cylindrical shapes; one will dramatically extend down to a mirrored coffee table to create a focal point in the large, open space.
To finish the restoration, the firm will create a gold-coffered ceiling in the double-height lobby; install new registration and concierge desks; redo restaurant facades opening to the lobby; re-imagine signage throughout the public spaces as well as on the exterior (including the marquis); and put in new automatic revolving entrance doors.
“We’re breathing life back into the New Yorker,” Knapp says. “This wonderful, historic hotel has flourished and faded, and we’re giving it the edge it needs to reclaim its status in the New York hotel market.”
New Yorker Hotel
Project Team: Stonehill & Taylor
Principal: Paul Taylor, president
Project Manager: Christina Zimmer, vice president
Project Architect: Renee Millett, CAD designer
Interior Designer: Lorraine Knapp, director of interior design
910 total, 64 suites
Room size: From 155 to 210 square feet
Average suite size: 400 square feet
Typical Guestroom Furnishings:
• One queen size or two full size beds
• Bedding: white microstripe linens with gold bedskirt and gold pillowcases on accent pillows, which serve as additional sleeping pillows, by Harbor Linens
• 100 percent wool chocolate and gold throw at foot of bed by Nancy Koltes
• Carpet is a custom geometric design in dark brown and gold by Templeton
• Casegoods in dark zebra wood veneer finish with flush stainless steel framing: all custom by Kimball
• Custom upholstered headboards mounted to wall and framed by taller wood panels
• Desk with attached three-drawer dresser
• Nightstand(s) with open shelf and closed storage below
• Dining tables in larger suites: solid wood and veneer, dark walnut finish
• Upholstered furniture by Astoria Imports
• Desk chair: wood frame, armless upholstered seat and back
• Lounge chair: modified version of Josef Hoffmann’s Keller chair, chocolate velvet pholstery with black and white trim
• Bench (in larger rooms): upholstery and trim matching the lounge chair
• Dining chairs: wood back and frame with upholstered seat, adapted from the style of an Eliel Saarinen chair
• Suites have ergonomic task chairs at the desk, by Daniel Paul
• ADA rooms and suites have pullout sofas or chairs, fully upholstered in a gold and brown fabric, by American Leather
• Metal frame furniture by International Ironworks: Side table with marble top, accompanying most lounge chairs; cocktail table with marble top, in living area of suites