Helpern Architects

Midtown Mixed-Use Building

New York, New York
Undisclosed Hotel Developer
207,000 s.f.

An international hotelier approached Helpern Architects because of our experience both with hotels and the Landmarks Commission approval process. We worked with its US-based partner to test out suitable sites for an upscale 4-plus-star hotel.

One site in particular seemed capable of yielding the pro forma: 340 good-sized guestrooms and top-floor suites, space for fitness and meeting rooms, plus a high lobby and restaurant/lounge, possibly even a music venue.

But along with this promising profile came a passel of issues related to the proposed location: an assemblage of merged sites adjacent to a landmarked church with significant air rights at play. The main question: Was the buildable footprint too narrow for the use?

We grappled with all the parameters and the pro forma, developed blocking and stacking diagrams, and generated computer renderings. To maximize the number of hotel rooms that zoning and LPC would permit, we proposed to cantilever an S-shaped arc near but not right over the church nave – providing [rather than sacrificing] light, air, and reflectivity.

We also met with Landmarks Preservation Commission staff to understand current criteria for achieving appropriate use of air rights, and to get their reaction to our possible solution.

Renderings by Helpern Architects and Stone3D