January 19, 2010

Stonehill & Taylor Plays Up Politics At New York’s President Hotel

When Stonehill & Taylor Architects and Planners renovated Hampshire Hotels & Resorts and Best Western’s flagship President Hotel in New York’s Times Square, they took their project’s name literally. The New York based architecture firm channeled details from America’s political history into their interior design concept for $15 million renovation and, in the process, set a new bar for the nationwide hospitality brands.

The firm renovated 334 rooms and suites on 15 floors, while adding new fitness amenities, a business center and conference facilities. Presidential references begin in the lobby, where Stonehill & Taylor used Thomas Jefferson and Abraham Lincoln, the first presidents to top the tickets of the nation’s two modern political parties, to inspire recurring motifs throughout. “Centrist purple”—a combination of Republican red and Democrat blue—is the dominant accent color.

The lobby lounge, Primary, features a deconstructed flag composed of a white lacquer slatted wall that stands in for the flag’s stripes, interrupted by inset vitrines displaying replicas of Jefferson’s trademark powdered wigs and Lincoln’s iconic top hat. Thirteen iron stars, representing the original colonies, stud the wall, while a golden glittering mosaic eagle perches on a 10-foot-wide convex mirror from the late 1700’s. A nook dubbed the Bipartisan Booth is surrounded by walls that are embellished with a magnified rendering of the Gettysburg Address.

Upstairs, guest rooms celebrate specific presidents, including suites named Reagan, Kennedy, Nixon and Obama. Jefferson and Lincoln show up again as silhouettes embroidered on throw pillows. George Washington also makes an appearance—as busts in the guestrooms.

Like most Americans, I was fascinated, consumed even, by the [2008] election,” says Stonehill & Taylor principal Mike Suomi. “We thought it would be powerful to use the history of our country’s two-party system, something that had become suddenly crucial and relatable, as the overriding concept for the hotel, but interpret it in a very modern, fun, and maybe sometimes even irreverent, way.”

Images courtesy of Stonehill & Taylor Architects and Planners.

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