The prevailing approach to landmark preservation in New York tends to be either/or—i.e., if it’s not worthy of embalming, knock it down—which has deprived the city of many fine buildings that might have enjoyed second lives via a mixture of historic and contemporary design. The Chatwal, an 83-room new hotel off Times Square, exemplifies such a mix. Once home to The Lambs, America’s oldest theatrical society, the Georgian-style structure, built in 1905 and doubled in size ten years later, was originally designed by Stanford White (himself a Lambs Club member), and its facade and numerous interior elements were subject to strict landmarking rules. “I love historic preservation,” says architect/designer Thierry Despont—indeed, he oversaw the restoration of the Statue of Liberty—“but one has to be intelligent about what is important to preserve.” Accordingly, Despont’s Chatwal honors White’s work, and infuses it with a present-day reimagining of architectural history.
Click here to see a slideshow of the project.