PASANELLA, KLEIN STOLZMAN, BERG ARCHITECTS

In 1996, Pasanella + Klein Stolzman + Berg’s renovation of West 55th Street’s Shoreham Hotel turned a once-dowdy property into one of New York’s first boutique-style lodgings. The change was so successful — aesthetically and financially — that The Boutique Hotel Group, the hotel’s owners, bought an adjacent 10-story office building with the goal of more than doubling the number of guest rooms and expanding Shoreham’s public areas to include a conference room and a restaurant.

Principal Henry Stolzman wanted to retain the intimate, luminous elegance of Shoreham 1 despite Shoreham 2’s tight demands: fewer square feet per guestroom upstairs and more amenity spaces required downstairs. There was also the functional problem of fusing the two buildings into one unified structure. PKSB’s solution was to transform the ground floor into a single winding, contiguous space, with guest rooms accessible via two separate elevator banks. The second building’s street-level interiors now progress in what Stolzman calls “a sequence of light boxes,” a series of minimally lit volumes with constantly changing colors along the circulation path.

One of the highlights of the newly-expanded ground floor is the hotel’s restaurant, which anchors the 55th Street facade and blends feelings of vertical compression (from its unusually low ceiling) and horizontal openness (full-length pivoting windows open to lend the entire room an alfresco effect). Then, at the north end of the east wing’s lobby-level marble-floored corridor is the hotel’s new breakfast area and skylit meeting room. The room’s severely modernist banquet table makes a stark contrast to the textured, mirror-backed glass rear wall –a vertical “slab of ice,” as the architect describes it, which changes dramatically in varying light conditions.

Upstairs, the 94 new guest rooms provided their own logistical trials: to obtain the required number of guest rooms per floor, says Stolzman, the spaces had to be unusually constrained. While there’s no getting around– or around in –the average room’s tight dimensions, PKSB succeeded in turning the overly cozy quarters into a stylish place to crash. In cases where the mom’s square footage was under 150, including the bathroom, Stolzman turned his full attention to the bed. He calls the result his “opium bed.” Indeed, the queen-size sleepers–with built-in custom cabinetry and an Ultrasuede headboard/canopy combination that covers most of the wall space–evoke the womb-like languidity of an opium den. A supermagnified black-and-white floral photograph ornaments each headboard, adding a tonal counterpoint to the tan-and-taupe palette.

With the bathrooms, too, “we fought for every inch,” Stolzman says. Rather than drywall, translucent glass separates the bathroom from the bedroom, admitting some natural light and conserving a few precious inches of floor space. Other touches, including custom-designed stainless sinks, trimmed of excess counter space inches, and ubiquitous mirrors, fight the good fight against claustrophobia.

USER’S COMMENTS

JEFF BURGESS / Concierge

What is your favorite aspect of the hotel?

I like the lobby because of the intimate feeling, because of the way they lit it, the shapes. The lighting has subtlety; it gives you a warm feeling. The light that changes color kind of pulls you back to the bar and around.

What part of the design helps you do your job better?

The public spaces. Also, my desk is set back in the corner with a top that curves down over me. It lends itself to humor. Guests tell me, “Don’t hit your head.”

What would you change about the hotel?

I wish when they did the other side they’d done the art and lighting differently. I thin k it’s a little more bland.

What do guest comment on most?

We get complimented on the artwork, the bar, the back area. One guest, he loves our sheets. That’s why he comes here.

If you were travelling would you want to stay in a hotel like this?

I like small hotels like this one because of the personalized service and design.

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