Brooklyn Design at City Modern
The newly opened Wythe Hotel proved to be an apt setting for the City Modern Brooklyn Design panel. A converted warehouse turned boutique hotel, the Wythe is a fine case study in the types of decisions that seem most relevant to design in Brooklyn today—a respect for the old alongside a desire to create something new.
New York magazine's Wendy Goodman lead the panel featuring restauranteur Andrew Tarlow, architect Morris Adjmi, and hotel designer Stefanie Brechbuehler of Workstead. The group discussed the various moves that make the hotel emblematic of the borough's sensibility—the exposed brick walls and timber ceilings, and the extensive ironwork remaining from the building's past life as a factory.
When deciding upon a front door for the hotel's scoop entrance, Brechbuehler found the idea of a traditional doorway appalling and so created a curved front door that integrated naturally into the brick entryway. Building architect Morris Adjmi, of Morris Adjmi Architects, points out they did make one dramatic move: they decided to slice off half the building to make way for the glass addition. That meant integrating modern windows into the new building wall, which weren't designed to blend in seamlessly with the rest of the brick exterior.
“Hopefully the more projects like this, the better quality we can expect for the neighborhood,” Tarlow adds. (Another boutique hotel is planned a few blocks away, so perhaps Tarlow can expect better quality and competition.)
Adjmi speaks at greater length on developing in landmarked, historic districts of Brooklyn, and how “development is in many cases frowned upon.” The goal of his firm to convince community boards that what they're pursuing is good for the neighborhood and can be contextual and different at the same time, says Adjmi.
Brechbuehler warns against the obsession many designers have to mimic the old, and the difficulty of “creating something that feels like it's already been there.” She says there are some spaces she's visited and wondered: “Is this Brooklyn or the Epcot Center?”