October 25, 2013

Creative Reuse: The High Line Hotel in New York

While the image of a “dormitory” doesn’t conjure up anything remotely soothing, The High Line Hotel, which just opened this past May on 10th Avenue and 20th Street in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, manages to do just that. Perhaps it’s because the dormitory the hotel’s owners transformed was built in photogenic red brick collegiate-Gothic style in 1895 and is located on the idyllic grounds of the General Theological Seminary.

In retaining the landmarked building’s original stained glass windows, moldings and pine and tile floors, as well as furnishing the generously sized rooms with a comfortable mix of vintage pieces and antique rugs, the 60-room hotel endeavored to “re-expose this history—and the feelings that are evoked by it—to guests and the community,” says Tyler Morse, the hotel’s owner and developer. “We wanted people to feel the richness of the history.”

Joined by an interior design team from Roman and Williams Buildings and Interiors, management created a look they call “vintage eclectic Americana.” Aside from the unexpected stained glass windows guests encounter in rooms and hallways, Morse’s favorite “creative re-use” design element is the 60 authentic 1930s-era Western Electric 202 phones (adapted with a rotary dial over an IP system—but they ring the old-fashioned way) in every room. Each also has an antique wicker headboard, a classic “T” chair and “mushroom stool,” and 100-year-old Persian and Oriental rugs sourced from around the world. Many also have fireplaces (now decorative rather than functional) and the most serene ones look out over the interior courtyard and garden leading to the seminary buildings straight out of turn-of-the-century Oxford or Cambridge.

In the front courtyard, a 1963 Citroen H Van (repurposed from furniture delivery van once used in the South of France) is now an Intelligentsia Coffee bar. “Wellness,” says Morse, summarizing The High Line Hotel’s philosophy, “is a unique, relaxing and pleasurable experience.”

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