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David Rockwell and Ian Schrager Talk Preservation, Collaboration, and the New York Edition Hotel

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Though there were already several Edition hotels—in Miami Beach, London, and Istanbul—architect David Rockwell and developer Ian Schrager have paired up on the latest in the collection, a new outpost in the Big Apple. Despite being linked by name and a theme of luxury, each location is treated like a one-of-a-kind project, both Rockwell and Schrager told Curbed in recent interviews. One new challenge was working an existing, landmarked building: The hotel occupies the 1911 Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife) Tower, reimagining its turn-of-the-20th-century corporate interiors as 273 swanky guest suites and a second-floor restaurant being helmed by British chef Jason Atherton.

Working in a historic structure meant juggling a need to preserve elements of the original structure and a desire to provide the modern accommodations demanded by the kinds of travelers frequenting a boutique hotel. "The lower floors, which were originally the Met Life executive's offices, were largely in disarray after a century of renovations and minor upgrades," says Rockwell, when asked about the challenges his firm, the Rockwell Group, and Ian Schrager Company faced. Navigating around those piecemeal "improvements" of yore, Rockwell and Schrager landed on an aesthetic that's a "bit eclectic," describes Rockwell. Historic millwork remains in many spaces, living alongside new, lighting, furniture, and finishes. Perhaps the pièce de résistance of the old-meets-new aesthetic is the ground-level spiral staircase, which unfurls upward ribbonlike in the hotel lounge, rising from just beyond a cluster of Alvar Aalto chairs settled near a fireplace.

When asked about the collaborative process, Schrager (known for co-founding legendary New York City nightclub Studio 54 and helping popularize the boutique hotel as we know it) praised Rockwell's team's ability to deliver on "production, shop drawings, procurement, purchasing, load in, and a whole host of other unsung requirements." For his part, Rockwell noted that Schrager "always has his finger on the pulse of art, design, fashion, and culture, and is always bursting with ideas" and helped steer the conversation toward comfort. It shows.

The New York Edition hotel is open for business and many more are set to open between now and 2019 in places from Shanghai (2017) to Reykjavik (2018) to Bali (2019). Another New York City location, in Times Square, is also in the works, set to open sometime in 2018.

Tour the New York Edition Hotel, Carved From a Clocktower [Curbed NY]
Citadel of Style: The New York Edition [Architectural Record]
All David Rockwell coverage [Curbed]
All Ian Schrager posts [Curbed]