NEW HAVEN, CT – November 30, 2021 – Highly anticipated Hotel Marcel, A Tapestry Hotel by Hilton, will be opening its doors in April 2022. An icon of Brutalist architecture in New Haven, Connecticut, the building has a storied past: Completed in 1970 by Bauhaus designer and architect Marcel Breuer to house the headquarters of the Armstrong Rubber Company, it sat empty for decades, with a large portion of the structure demolished at one point to make way for a parking lot. Drivers along Interstate 95 can catch glimpses of the concrete behemoth floating — the building serving as an on-point demonstration of Breuer’s approach to separation of function: a two-story void separating the base of the building from the office block above.
Listed on the State and National Register of Historic Places, the Pirelli Building, as it became known, is now getting new life as the country’s first Passive-House certified and first net zero energy hotel. Hotel Marcel will be one of only about a dozen LEED Platinum certified hotels in the United States. Purchased in 2020 by architect and developer Bruce Redman Becker, FAIA, LEED AP of Becker + Becker, the hotel will feature 165 guest rooms and suites, full-service new American restaurant and bar, a lounge and 7,000 square feet of meeting and event space with penthouse courtyard and galleries. The hotel will be all-electric, generating 100% of its own electricity and energy for heat and hot water with a rooftop solar array and solar parking canopies. The hotel will also include many cutting-edge technologies to modernize the building, including Power over Ethernet (PoE) lighting system, renewable on-site energy generation, plus extensive upgrades to enhance interior temperature control and air quality. The building’s Energy Use Intensity (EUI) rating is projected to be 34 kBtu per square foot — 80% less energy than median EUI for hotels in the United States.
“With the climate crisis and continued use of fossil fuels posing an existential threat to humanity, I felt an obligation to build a building that can serve as a model for environmental sustainability,” said Bruce Redman Becker, FAIA, LEED AP, Becker + Becker. “The question should not be why are we doing this but why isn’t everyone else?”
The property’s design is a collaboration between Becker + Becker, project architect, and New York City-based interior design and branding studio Dutch East Design, founded by visionaries Larah Moravek, Dieter Cartwright and William Oberlin. Dutch East Design was engaged to design Hotel Marcel’s visual identity and interior design.
“It is a rare opportunity to be offered such an iconic structure to reimagine into a hotel,” said Larah Moravek, co-founder, Dutch East Design. “We wanted to honor the distinct architecture and celebrate the building in all its glory. We took an intentional position to allow the interiors to be the soft underbelly of the Brutalist exoskeleton.”
Hotel Marcel will be operated by Chesapeake Hospitality and join Tapestry Collection by Hilton, an upscale portfolio of more than 70 handpicked, original hotels. Hotel Marcel will re-introduce the public to the raw beauty and strength of brutalism with the building’s architecture leading the narrative and a less is more approach for the interior design. Upon arrival, guests are met by a palette of warm earth tones with a textural buildup of stone finishes, found in the custom wood reception desk, and eye-catching terra cotta in a Cle Tile feature wall, complimented by custom lighting designed by Dutch East. An existing depressed floorplate on the North end will be made into a sunken lounge that works as the lobby lounge as well as pre-function space should the pivot doors open up from the forum and function spaces, allowing hotel guests to meander and discover various seating vignettes. The furniture, carpets, area rugs and lighting are custom designed by Dutch East Design, deploying Bauhaus inspired patterning throughout all the textiles. The historic ceiling has been reinstated to respond to the interior layout, providing an open plane of intersecting ceiling tiles that accommodate the reimagined original architectural lighting system with new custom faceted acrylic lens panels.
Guests who wander up to the ninth floor will find a James Turrell-like experience, serving as an event space with an interior courtyard and light wells created to add natural light. Boasting 15-foot-high ceilings, previously home to the building’s HVAC system, the space unveils the masterful and artistic truss system, the imprint of which is cast as a relief into the building’s exterior. Coming off the elevators, guests are welcomed by a feature screen leading to the large flexible event space beyond. The floor will also have four dedicated conference rooms for a total of 7,000 square feet of space for meetings and gatherings in the hotel.
Minimalist and inviting, most of the 165 guest rooms utilize concrete grey, caramel vinyl and walnut throughout, emphasized by pops of muted dark green and sienna and sculptural decorative lighting. Following the original floor plans of the office floor, the rooms achieve an openness through interlocking elements, with the closet connecting with the nightstand and headboard of the platform bed frame. On the opposing side of the room sits a sculptural cast concrete table, celebrating the concrete exterior of the building. Guests will also find a Breuer Cesca chair at the desk.
On the eighth floor live the hotel’s nine historic rooms and suites, highlighting the carefully restored and preserved wood paneled walls of what were once executive offices and conference rooms. Offsetting the rich color of the wood, Dutch East selected oak for the casegoods and a blend of light blues and warm grays in textiles throughout the spaces lounge area, kitchenette and bedroom. Each suite will have a unique layout and curated art collection.
Throughout the hotel, nods to Marcel Breuer’s pioneering work at the Bauhaus are intentional, from custom carpets with an over-scaled Bauhaus inspired graphic found in the suites to the chevron patterns on the standard guest room carpeting. The Dutch East team also incorporated the angular geometry of the exterior window panels into the wood detailing on the interior, celebrating Breuer’s brutalist language in the guestroom corridor ceiling panels.
Fine artist Kraemer Sims Becker, who is spearheading the guest room artwork selection as well as a private art collection for the hotel, puts an emphasis on female artists, all of whom connect with the Bauhaus movement in their work, inspired by the likes of Anni Albers, Gunta Stölzl, and Benita Koch-Otte. Emphasizing the intersection of Brutalist and Bauhaus, the artwork within the guest rooms varies between room configurations but utilizes the same visual language. Within the King rooms, patchwork pieced wall hangings by Brooklyn-based artist Cory Siegler are suspended from wood frames and are handmade of a combination of fabrics, some of which are archived memo samples from Dutch East Design’s collection of fabric palettes for the project. Double Queen rooms will have a set of two silkscreen print editions, each featuring five vignettes, celebrating the geometry and form in muted greens and sienna. Larger rooms and suites also include reproductions of three different monoprints from Becker’s portfolio.
The public spaces collection celebrates the craft of artmaking, and includes works made through an array of processes—from printmaking to the sculpted canvas. The artists range from former art students of Yale and an undergraduate student at Connecticut College to graphic designers and a textile artist. A distinct interplay between art and the built environment can be found within each room, creating a synergy between utility and style, and demonstrating the ongoing influence of the Bauhaus movement in art from the region.
Hotel Marcel will be home to a full-service new American restaurant called BLDG, a play on the abbreviation for building, frequently seen in architectural shorthand and a nod to the building’s pedigree. The wine list will highlight biodynamic and organic wines from Italy, Spain, New Zealand, Chile and California, the menu will be locally sourced with items including New Haven lobster rolls and duck confit sliders. The tabletop will be minimal, finished off with napkins made from upcycled textiles. BLDG’s bar is a back-lit perforated metal sculptural element that sits within the surrounding dining area, lighting by Rich Brilliant Willing and a dimensional felt feature wall. In addition to the restaurant and bar, Hotel Marcel will offer a grab and go style counter offering sustainable purveyors as well as design focused gifts and a water filling station.
Hotel Marcel is located at 500 Sargent Drive adjacent to New Haven’s Wooster Square neighborhood, and the city’s waterfront and one of the closest hotels to New Haven’s Union Station. Bookings are now live at the link here. For more information, visit hotelmarcel.com.