The program for the Chinatown Hotel dictated, in addition to hotel rooms and apartments, that the project maintain a public passageway through the site. The initial site, now the west side of the site, was allowed to expand east and to occupy a lot with street frontage on Bowery St, the eastern side of the site. Chinatown in New York has a distinct density to it, emphasized by the extreme amount of signage on the street, and that density crowds into the streets and alleyways. This on street density lends itself towards the seeming anonymity and ubiquity of the area.
Bowery, one of the major streets of the east side of Manhattan, is a break in the density of the area, where foot traffic gives way to vehicular traffic. The eastern wing of the building, which reaches Bowery and maintains the public pathway through the site, is a reversal of the traditional and formal back to front relationship of a building. The street frontage here is minimal and creates a new alley into the heart of the site, both on the ground level and below (The lower level of the pedestrian path is integrated into an existing subterranean network of public passageways which feature small businesses and shops). The eastern wing of the building represents the Hotel portion of the project. Meant for low scale clientele, rooms extend from the central building, where shared bathrooms are grounded into the main structure of the project. Each of these rooms is accessed via open balconies designed to resemble fire escapes.
The ground level of the main portion of the building is programmed as a one screen movie theater with a stage, so as to fit into the local context of smaller shops. A bar and dining area sit above and behind the theater seating, on the street edge. Above the bar, the third level is occupied by a local restaurant. Its kitchen overlooks the street and is framed with glazing, to expose the inner workings of restaurant and provide natural light for an area that normally receives very little in traditional buildings. Guests can dine indoors or out, with the exterior seating area sitting at the bottom of the vertical atrium which provides natural light for rooms above that would otherwise be landlocked. The outdoor area also features a small reflecting pond with a glass bottom. The water works to reflect light both above and below, where the entrance to the hotel and public passageway is located.
The rooms above the restaurant cantilever away from the center of the site, and overhang the street. The cantilever enables the large central atrium and provides a dynamic multistory condition for the lofts at the intersection of the cantilevered portion of the building and the main portion. This cantilevered portion of the building features either two or three rooms, alternating as the building climbs. The corner between the two pieces of the building produces multistoried condominiums the full height of the project. The penthouse on the upper level features three floors rather than two and a rooftop terrace. The vertical circulation is at the heart of the site and features a smaller continuous vertical atrium bordered on one edge by stairs, on one by elevators and on the other by the bathrooms of the hotel which feature mirrored glazing allowing views out from but not in to.
Building density and construction costs in New York dictate efficiency of design and this is what the project seeks to maintain. The project seeks to achieve numerous conceptual goals using the fewest physical elements possible. Lighting is important throughout, from the entrance bridge under the reflection pond to the exposed balconies of the hotel to the central atrium, all of which offer open air circulation space. The light here is dynamic and changes intensity from space to space. The openness of the project also provides visual connections between multiple levels and across the site.
New York, NY
Final drawings and renders for this project were executed in Revit.