New Life For An Architectural Gem
About a decade ago, the term Boutique Hotel began to surface in the travel world. These hotels often were smaller, and a bit more minimalistic than the major chains. They all had a unique personality. Most had a bar with select food options, and of course coffee. Early on, as we stayed at the various hotels, I tried very hard to relay to others what we liked about them. What was the draw? I really couldn’t pinpoint any one thing they all had in common except they have a “feeling” that is comforting in a haunting kind of way.
Bingo! This week, as I was reading the massive amount of trade information I receive, the answer became as clear as day. The following photo shoot and introduction of the opening of the Life Hotel finally explains what I have been trying to tell others for over a decade.
THERE IS COMFORT REPURPOSING A BUILDING THAT ONCE HAD SO MUCH LIFE IN IT
(all photos and inserts are from the hotel’s site or online sources of Life magazine)
Each and every one of the Boutique Hotels we have stayed in…used to be something else before it was a hotel. It was not a building constructed to mainly accommodate weary travelers. Rooms were not planned out to all be the exact same size or have the same features. Conventional plumbing and hvac didn’t exist for individual needs. No cookie cutter decor was planned.
These hotels were newspaper buildings, textile mills, manufacturing facilities, and yes, magazine headquarters. For decades, there were thousands of days where people prepared to spend a good percentage of their day in these buildings. Drink their morning coffee while talking about last night’s ball games. Worry about a sick child or parent while they put in an honest days work to make a living. Close relationships were made and nurtured for lifetimes in these buildings. These structures lived long before they became a hotel. There are stories in every wall.
Life was an American magazine that ran weekly from 1883 to 1936 as a humor magazine with limited circulation. Time owner Henry Luce bought the magazine in 1936, solely so that he could acquire the rights to its name, and launched a major weekly news magazine with a strong emphasis on photojournalism.
There are some of us who remember many of the LIFE covers. When looking thru the archives, I realized that more often than not, the covers would be considered controversial at the time. So even though I am most enthralled at the new hotel that will be next on my Go with me Somewhere list, I did a little research and discovered another reason to love this building.
WELCOME TO THE LIFE HOTEL, CENTRALLY LOCATED IN NYC’S VIBRANT NOMAD NEIGHBORHOOD. LOCATED IN THE ORIGINAL BUILDING THAT ONCE HOUSED THE ICONIC LIFE MAGAZINE, WHERE CELEBRATED WRITERS AND ARTISTS WORKED, RESIDED, AND PLAYED, THE HOTEL ECHOES THE ORIGINAL DUAL-USE OF THIS ICONIC PROPERTY.
Did you catch that…if you worked for LIFE, you also lived in the building!
Can you picture walking down a few flights of, certainly marble and iron, stairs to your floor of clacking typewriters, water coolers and guys/gals dressed for work? No casual Fridays here. And what if you had an office? One with half paneled walls and glass so you could see out to the floor but have a little less noise. Maybe your name stenciled on the door. Big tall windows looking out onto a street alive with people heading to and from their homes. The people you were eventually going to write about.
Even if you do not recognize this guy, you know his work. He was one of the fortunate ones to live and work in this building.
“The magazine was uniquely modern in that all the artists and writers lived upstairs and they produced the magazine downstairs,” says Mitchell. “The whole concept of ‘we work, we live’ was very present. People like Norman Rockwell all lived in this building and made this magazine, which was very edgy and current when it came out.”
The architects and designers who have worked on this project are among those who have a passion for creating something new in a building with history.
To keep the tradition of original photo journalism alive, the art in the hotel is of local artists. It will be ever changing. I can’t help but think Norman would be on board with these brick and mortars promoting unknown artists again.
I simply can’t wait to live, even for a few days, in such an iconic atmosphere. Here are some more photos of this amazing recreation of a true classic.
However, the best part of traveling, even to the very best places, is the “feeling” you get when you open the door to your own LBD. Everyone can relate to this! There is no place like home.
We do not benefit in any way from mentioning the Life Hotel in New York. We simply want to continue to show examples of good design and promote our philosophy that good design is everywhere for everyone to enjoy.
We welcome the opportunity to talk with you about your home or office. Should they be one in the same like the Life building was, all the more wonderful!