Monday, December 8, 2008

No heedless intruder?

James S. Russell, Bloomberg’s U.S. architecture critic, uh, critiques the Cooper Square Hotel today. The hotel, which opens Thursday, includes a 1,600 square-foot, three-bedroom, full-floor penthouse ($7,500 a night) that features a private outdoor shower that squirts upward.

Anyway! Some passages from his very positive review. (Meanwhile, see you in the penthouse! I'll be in the outdoor shower wearing a diaper!)

Like a spinnaker frozen in glass, the 21-story Cooper Square Hotel billows above beat-up tenement buildings in Manhattan’s gentrifying East Village.


The slim, all-glass tower, enclosing just 145 rooms, makes plenty of attention-seeking gestures. It swells outward as it rises, then tips back. Facets along the side wiggle in and out, changing from glass to hole-punched metal panels. These surfaces look stretched taut, as if under enormous internal pressure.

If it sounds like too many ingredients and too many ideas, [architect Carlos] Zapata molds them into a seemingly effortless whole rather than a nervous assemblage of tics.

He has fused the hotel with a battered tenement building next door, which has been saved along with the tenancy of two women who have lived through the neighborhood’s extended tough times to see it flower.


Zapata animated the entrance by erecting a little four-story tower that bookends the tenement and looks ripped from the main tower at the base. Above, he has peeled away the shiny skin to reveal squared-off tubular shapes in tan and green. This lets the tower echo the ragged silhouette of the long-neglected tenement neighborhood. Its contrasting lightness doesn’t weigh down the layers of red brick, terra-cotta rickrack and dangling fire escapes that give the streets such evocative character.

In spite of its size and contemporary styling, the hotel is no heedless intruder.

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