GRAMERCY PARK HOTEL
Two Lexington Avenue
New York City, NY 10010
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ARCHITECTURE / DESIGN
Architect: Robert Lyons
Renovation Architect: John Pawson
Interior Designer: Julian Schnabel
When is an Oscar-nominated director and iconic artist chosen to decorate a hotel? When he’s Julian Schnabel, the Brooklyn-born filmmaker, sculptor and painter, whose smashed-plate paintings established him as an art-world super star. In 2006, when Schnabel was completing his own atelier in the West Village, dubbed the Palazzo Chupi, he was tapped by Ian Schrager and Aby Rosen to re-imagine the Gramercy Park Hotel.
Built in 1925 on a site that previously held the home of quintessential New York architect Stanford White, the hotel has been much loved by the artists, designers, and literati who frequented its halls. Robert T. Lyons originally designed the elegant Renaissance Revival hotel whose construction was overseen by developer brothers Bing & Bing. The hotel was built across from the lush and storied Gramercy Park, the only private park in New York.
By the early 2000s, the property was in distinct need of a makeover. Minimalist architect John Pawson was tapped to refine the exteriors and Schnabel joined the grand efforts to take the Gramercy Park Hotel into the next century.
Designing many pieces himself, Schnabel assembled a mix of antiques, flea-market finds, and custom-made furnishings from different eras. Textured reclaimed wood in the soaring public spaces feels both earthy and sculptural. Bold strokes of color on a huge painting hung on the lobby wall make the ground floor feel like one continuous canvas. Crossing centuries and continents, the shared spaces are grounded by geometric-patterned floors, plush sofas and leather tabletops, Venetian light fixtures, hand-carved fireplace surrounds and Moroccan tiling. The reclaimed wood ceiling in the lobby is made of cypress, the same wood used to build shipping crates for artwork because it is so dense. Beneath the ceiling lies an Aubusson rug like the one Schnabel designed for his Palazzo Chupi. A few steps away sits a striking single-cast bronze desk that the artist designed for the concierge team. Original photography, paintings and sculpture from such artists as David Salle, Robert Mapplethorpe, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Fernando Botero hang on the walls.
Upstairs, each one of the 185 guestrooms is uniquely furnished and richly layered with velvet curtains, leather wing chairs, carved stone mantels and original art. Throughout the hotel, sensual fabrics and textures and a Renaissance-inspired color palette give guests the feeling of floating through a living masterpiece.
Schnabel said that he approached the project as a painter more than a decorator. The result of his vision is a dazzling contrast to the glossy modern look of so many hotels of the period. At the same time, it offers a contemporary view of life in Manhattan’s artistic community.