As construction work went underway on New York City’s most famous new public open space – the elevated High Line conversion on Manhattan’s West Side – something a bit more exclusive was going up at the same time, quite literally straddling the new park.
The 340-room Standard, Andre Balazs’ newest hotel, takes its cue from the High Line’s transformation from a gritty rail line into a high-concept icon while keeping in mind the character of the surrounding neighborhood.
“It was challenging to find the appropriate balance in terms of the architecture of the neighborhood, and the city, and the Standard brand,” says Todd Schliemann, partner at Polshek Partners, the architect selected for the job, who knew Balazs from their Cornell days together.
“We had to be very sensitive to a lot of influences.”
Building the hotel right above the park required monitoring for possible damage to the old rail line from construction-related vibrations, as well as installing a 100-ft-long net beneath the High Line to catch any falling debris, which was called “diapering.” The crew, headed by Pavarini McGovern, also installed a temporary plank and metal sidewalk bridge above the rail line. Due to poor soil conditions, the foundation was constructed as a reinforced bathtub, with drilled concrete caissons.
The 205,00-sq-ft building rises above the new park at Washington and 13th Sts. On the east side, laterally-braced 35-ft-tall columns combine to form a single 5-by-50-by-60-ft-tall pier, all made of exposed cast-in-place concrete. Styrofoam tube voids were placed inside the pier to reduce its weight.
The 100-ft span over the High Line required two steel trusses that combine with concrete, which were cantilevered in a multi-step shoring procedure.
The concrete on the columns and piers was selected in lieu of steel both as a cost-saving measure and for its expressive potential, merging the architectural with the structural. Above the line, however, the dynamic shifts drastically: instead of concrete, an ethereal curtain wall rises up 15 stories on a facade split and angled in the center to resemble an open book, sheathed in offset clear windows.
The merging of the raw concrete with the delicate glass gives the hotel its iconic feel.
“I love the power of the concrete, being able to mold the legs that hold the building up, and contrast that to the very clear glass,” says Schliemann. “One is refined and elegant and transparent, and the other is brutish and tough and heavy -it’s a very New York dialogue.”
Operator: Hotels AB (Andre Balazs Properties), New York
Equity Partners: Greenfield Partners, Chicago and Dune Capital, New York
Construction Consultant: ValCon Construction Consultants, New York
Developer: The John Buck Co., Chicago
General Contractor: Pavarini McGovern, New York
Architect: Polshek Partnership, New York
Interior Design: RW2, New York
Geotechnical Engineer: Langan Environmental, Elmwood Park, NJ
Structural Engineer: Edwards & Zuck, New York
Exterior Facade: R. A. Heintges, New York