Gotham West, located on West 45th Street in Manhattan, transforms a previously condemned block in Hell’s Kitchen into one of the largest residential developments in Manhattan in decades. The project demonstrates that complex, large-scale affordable housing developments are difficult, but also still possible in New York.
When we first saw the proposed plans for the site, it had two doors, a parking garage entrance, an immense exterior court and a grid of columns. That was it. The developer looked to differentiate themselves from other developments through the inclusion of a large “club” space meant to add for the exclusive use of the tenants.
Another request from the developer was to leave space open in the design. Not to break the lobby down into rooms but to have a warm and welcoming vibe. Our solution was to create overlapping zones of program. Architecturally, we didn’t want the room to feel like an airport lounge with modern furniture. Instead, we strategized custom pieces of furniture to become architecturally scaled to create zones of space. The final project, which began in 2010, was completed in October 2013, houses a total of 1,258 rooms in four buildings.
The lobby itself has warm but timeless aesthetics. A soft wool carpet in hues of green, beige and yellows wrap around a seating bench that flows down onto the ground towards the reception desk. The wall behind as well as in front of the desk is covered in warm golden yellow sculptured tiles that appear to illuminate softly from the lights above.
Two rows of tiny lights, embedded in the wooden panels of the lobby ceiling, direct eyes towards the back where oversized glass panels give guests a view of the reflection pool. Notions of a private oasis can be seen in the wooden panels above that extend on either side behind the reception desk and opposite the carpeted bench. The panels seem to blanket the lobby and wrap it in warm undertones.
A little further in, along the lobby corridor and past the game room complete with pool table and tv, is a 40-foot long skylight that implies division. The gallery, to the right of this skylight, is a large plaster wall that showcases art and rotates between local NYC talents and is curated.
Opposite the wall, a lounge with courtyard pool views from the extended glass panels, houses custom furniture that includes an indoor swing. Using local manufacturers for these custom pieces was an important factor to give continued support to the city.
By creating open zones rather than divided rooms, the main lobby has all the features that the developer had requested. From the moment you step inside, Gotham West is instantly warm and inviting. For overnight guests, the lobby’s high ceilings, pool views, and custom furniture pieces show that they are living the life of luxury, if only for a moment.