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Thread: Westin New York at Times Square Hotel

  1. #31

    Default Westin New York at Times Square Hotel


    November 28, 2002
    For Yin and Yang Architects, Heat in a Work of Light

    A NEWCOMER has planted itself off Times Square, a jazzy, colorful, irregularly shaped Westin Hotel, which shoots a light beam into the night sky. Some love it, some hate it, and one prominent critic wondered if it might be the ugliest building in New York.

    Not the sort of thing an architect wants to hear, although Bernardo Fort-Brescia and his partner and wife, Laurinda Spear, of the Miami-based firm Arquitectonica, have no trouble defending their work.

    "This building is a very precise interpretation of 43rd and 42nd Streets and Eighth Avenue," says Mr. Fort-Brescia, so full of energy he gestures like a conductor. "It wouldn't work anywhere else in the whole entire city. It's not on Park Avenue. It's not on Wall Street. This is a hotel in the theater district."

    Ms. Spear, the more reserved of the pair, said: "This building was the result of a design competition. One of the other finalists incorporated a giant apple with a huge clock on the top. The other was plastered with billboards from top to toe."

    Mr. Fort-Brescia, jumping in: "They were all dramatic, exuberant. There is such as thing as potentially losing the spirit of the place. People come to New York to be surprised and amazed."

    They're a design team, albeit one with 80 architects and offices around the world, but he does most of the traveling. She stays at home in Miami and drops the younger kids (there are six, ages 10 to 21) at school before going to work. Married 26 years, they keep a pied--terre in New York.

    Mr. Fort-Brescia, 51, was educated at Princeton and Harvard. He will not talk about his Peruvian family. "Businessmen," he'll say, vaguely. (In fact, with mining, banking, and real estate interests, the Brescia family is one of the wealthiest in Peru.) He is the more openly emotional. Ms. Spear, 52, the daughter of a prominent thoracic surgeon in Miami, was educated at Brown and Columbia. She puts in the dry, pointed comment or commentary.

    His look, with the glasses, is rumpled, professorial. The Westin New York, he says, has provided "a polemic." She, rushing into the Westin lobby, astonishingly lean, dressed in stretchy close-to-the body black, looks like a Prada professional. But a fellow of the American Institute of Architects, who gets up at 3:20 every morning and has left sick children at home, is not going to discuss something as inconsequential as clothing.

    "My clothes are so old," Ms. Spear says, sitting beside her husband on a suede lounge. Is her outfit designer? "I don't know. I'm just not a fashion person."

    ASKED to indulge in that intrusive New York practice of checking the label, Mr. Fort-Brescia moves obligingly toward his wife. She shoots him a look that could stop a tank, and that's the end of that.

    Arquitectonica, started with three friends in 1976 in Mr. Fort-Brescia's garage apartment, has long been recognized for bold, bright, postmodern design. One early attention getter was the Atlantis condominium in Miami, a royal blue skyscraper with a four-story hole in the middle, in which was planted a single palm tree.

    In 1995, Arquitectonica submitted its design for a hotel on the corner of Eighth Avenue to the city and state agencies responsible for the redevelopment of 42nd Street. Responding to criticism that the building is jarring, vulgar, Ms. Spear recalls a conversation with the architect Robert A. M. Stern, today the dean of the Yale School of Architecture, who was drafting the guidelines.

    "There were moments in the designing experience, we experimented with facades," Ms. Spear says. "There was one point Robert Stern said, `Now listen, you don't have to retrench and get really tasteful on me now.' He was joking, but there was an exuberance he was talking about. The redevelopment group did not have the intent of making this building look like everything else."

    What of the critics, the scathing review by Paul Goldberger in The New Yorker?

    "I do get hurt," Mr. Fort-Brescia says. "I felt hurt. I gave him the tour. I had no sense of where he was coming from. I did not expect those choice of words. They were hard."

    Ms. Spear suggests stoicism. "Anyone designing in the public eye has to be sort of thick-skinned about the response," she says. "Otherwise you could go into a corner and cry."

    She runs for the evening plane; Mr. Fort-Brescia walks along 43rd toward the jumping, jiving lights of Times Square. Out it comes in a rush. "I love New York, the energy! Forty-second and Eighth, my gosh, that's the site where I came out of the bus terminal when I was going to Princeton, wondering if I'd make it across 42nd Street to the Princeton Club, and I thought if some day I could build something here."

    What's with the light that runs the length of the building and shoots into the sky?

    "We look at New York, just the tops of buildings light up, the crown," Mr. Fort-Brescia says. "But in Times Square, with the billboards, the lights move up the building. We made the whole building the billboard."

    And off he goes into the neon night.

  2. #32

    Default Westin New York at Times Square Hotel

    wow, this is really a great topic, i happen to like this building both day and night. I agree with whoever said before that the building gives NYC a new different kind of look, a new architectureif you will. That is just what the city needs to help revitalize itself and get rid of the old dreary boxes.

  3. #33

    Default Westin New York at Times Square Hotel

    Critics are mean.

  4. #34

    Default Westin New York at Times Square Hotel

    lol, i understand where ur coming from Fabb * :biggrin:

  5. #35

    Default Westin New York at Times Square Hotel

    I don't know. Where am I coming from ?

  6. #36

    Default Westin New York at Times Square Hotel

    I repeat that this is a masterpiece; it's a bldg full of personality, very original, a new way to intend the notion of 'skyscraper', perfect linked with the atmosphere of Times Square, and full of energy, a thing very important for NYC now, and a thing which is, after all, a characteristic of Manhattan itself. In this sense, a bldg more 'newyorker' than the strange shape could make think.

  7. #37

    Default Westin Hotel - 2002 hospitality project of the year


    The Westin New York at Times Square

    Development Team

    ARCHITECT & INTERIOR DESIGNER: Arquitectonica, Miami and NYC
    GEOTECHNICAL ENGINEER: Langan Engineering and Environmental Services, Elmwood Park, NJ
    EXCAVATION & FOUNDATION CONTRACTOR: Laquila Construction Inc., Brooklyn, NY
    SUPERSTRUCTURE CONTRACTOR: Sorbara Construction Corp., Lynbrook, NY
    CONCRETE DETAILER: Recon, Elmsford, NY
    CURTAIN WALL CONTRACTOR: Permasteelisa Cladding Technologies, Windsor, Conn.
    CONSTRUCTION MANAGER: Tishman Westside Construction LLC., NYC
    HOTEL OPERATOR: Westin Hotels & Resorts, White Plains, NY
    OWNER & DEVELOPER: Tishman Realty & Construction Co. Inc., NYC

    From its design to its site to its construction, the $300 million Westin New York hotel in Manhattan's Times Square is anything but typical.

    First, its design incorporates a more theatrical approach to its facade because of its Times Square location. Second, the site for the 45-story, 667,000-sq.-ft., 863-room hotel consists of a 17,000-sq.-ft. parcel located on West 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue between a subway and the Carter Hotel and on top of the four-story, 200,000-sq.-ft. retail and entertainment complex known as E Walk. Third, construction has taken place during the height of the region's labor shortage with inclement weather and on a fast-track schedule. By the end of summer 2001, development team members reported the project was as much as four months ahead of schedule. At $300 million, the project was also below budget.

    Not bad for an environmentally responsible building that will feature 4,500 prefabricated curtain wall panels containing 20 different colors of glass in a myriad of dimensions.

    The focal point of the Westin New York at Times Square is its design. The building's design directly relates to the West 43d Street and Eighth Avenue portion of the site because of its small footprint for the hotel tower.

    The design also places the lobby level on the second level and not the ground floor. In addition, the public spaces are organized vertically above the lobby. Therefore, to take visitors to and through these spaces, a five-story glass atrium with escalators was created in the corner of the building on West 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue.

    The building also has a square plan with rooms centered around a central core of elevators. This creates a full-perimeter hallway so guests don't sense the distance from the elevator to their room.

    This square plan led to the creation of the facade design. To achieve the desired look, the building was "sliced" on the exterior to create the appearance of two buildings coming together. To do this, a recess was created. This recess contains a light effect that rises to the entire height of the building, taking on a curved shape that results in two unique forms rather than a box.

    At the top of the building the two forms are separated with a beam of light that shoots up to the sky between the two forms. And between the two distinct colors of the two faces of the facade will be multi-colored glass panels that add brush stroke accents to the facade.

    These "brush stroke accents" were created using hundreds of different dimensions of glass to make an endless combination of colors in the spandrels.

    The half-block site for the hotel tower is located between the Eighth Avenue subway and the Carter Hotel. Site logistics was also a challenge. These included a high-trafficked pedestrian corner at West 43rd Street and Eighth Avenue, rock removal adjacent the Carter Hotel and supporting the excavation adjacent the subway. To support the excavation adjacent to the subway line, 7-in. dia. mini-piles were drilled 11 ft. to 12 ft. into the rock below the subway invert. These mini-piles helped to facilitate construction by allowing a crane pad to be supported.

    In addition, the design of the Westin New York hotel calls for a building that sits on top of the E Walk building. The hotel comes up along the side about 100 ft. and cantilevers over the top of the E Walk entertainment complex, comprising a section of the building called a bustle. This is the eighth floor of the hotel where it cantilevers over and goes up to the 17th floor and breaks back in so the tower can continue to go up.

    Supporting the concrete bustle of the hotel was also difficult. The roof of the bustle goes from floors 8 through 17. The conventional way would have been to put up a separate building with an expansion joint. Use of an expansion joint was ruled out because of the maintenance required for it. Instead, the project's structural engineer recommended a Dynamic Isolator. This device is a seismic isolator used to dampen earthquake loads for buildings. It allows free movement in any horizontal plane and it is very stiff so it does not deflect on the vertical load.

    The hotel's sloped roof was also an issue. The solution was a very complex structural slab that required extensive engineering with regard to the form work, false work, scaffolding and outriggers.

    The jury noted that the project's challenges were many and difficult and that the project team provided creative solutions to these project challenges while focusing on safety throughout the project.

  8. #38
    Forum Veteran
    Join Date
    Nov 2002
    New York City

    Default Westin Hotel

    Interesting article, Maxin. *Very informative.

  9. #39

    Default Westin Hotel

    So much for the argument that this thing is a "fancy box." *I think that the Westin is colorful, imaginatively shaped, and architecturally interesting.

  10. #40

    Default Westin Hotel

    Plus, it's in Times Square. Anything goes.

  11. #41


    Edward, your photos are good enough to be post cards.

  12. #42


    Buildings left to right - Orion condo, 1515 Broadway, Westin Times Square Hotel, McGraw-Hill building.

    Empire State Building makes a cameo appearance in the upper left corner; reflections of the sunset over Hudson River in the Westin Hotel.

  13. #43
    Random Personality
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Woodside, Queens


    Stunning picture. Love the reflection. Thanks Edward.

  14. #44
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    The 13-screen movie theater next to the Westin has just changed the big illuminated sign out front on 42nd from "LOEW'S" to "REGAL" ...

  15. #45


    Noticed that.. at least they finally fixed that sign.. one of the letters had been out for some time

    BTW, I really like that Westin... I think it is the most interesting building in the area. At night you can see an arc of light zoom up the side from my apt. It is stunning.

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