"Because in Soho there’s a village flavor and it’s quite artistic, I wanted our hotel to fit in with that concept," says London-based Firmdale Hotel’s Kit Kemp of her and husband Tim’s first stateside hotel, Crosby Street. "I didn’t want it to be British and I didn’t want it to be necessarily American, but just villagey really, and that doesn’t matter where it is."
New York architecture firm Stonehill & Taylor was on board from the beginning, introducing the husband-and-wife team to the parking lot site, around the corner from its office at the time. Set 15 feet back from the rest of the buildings on the narrow, quintessential Soho street, a steel and glass canopy, meant to emulate traditional loading docks, and a small plaza done in granite with bands of white and black pebbles (inspired by Firmdale’s Number Sixteen hotel) make the arrival area something special.
In addition to the 10,000-square-foot empty lot, the Kemps purchased a building directly behind the site, which created not only block-through access from two streets, but also two "secret gardens" in the center, and a ton of natural light throughout the hotel. "Lots of New York buildings are very deep and they get very dark in the center," says Kemp. "The joy of the design of this building was that we had light streaming in on both sides, so there’s not one room which doesn’t benefit from wonderful daylight."
"My only requirement was to incorporate these Crittall windows, like they have at their Soho Hotel in London," says Stonehill & Taylor principal Paul Taylor of the huge 12-by-10 steel and glass windows that define each of the 86 guestrooms and spacious headline suites over the 11-story building.
Sustainability is top of mind throughout: besides natural light, the hotel also boasts a meadow, courtesy of green roof design firm Goode Green, on the second floor roof, and the 11th floor will soon be home to another garden, complete with chickens to provide the freshest eggs to the restaurant. Crosby Street is also on track to be the first LEED Gold hotel in New York City. "If you’re doing a new building right now, it should be to the LEED standard," says Kemp. "I think any modern building should be."
Inside, each space is meticulously appointed, with the type of attention to detail, texture, and color that gives the feeling that Kemp was not designing a hotel, but her family’s New York home, with plans on entertaining a lot. "We love color, and texture and tones, and we wanted to put the detail in that we hadn’t seen in a lot of New York hotels," says Kemp. "And when you’ve been doing it for quite a long time, then it starts to get fun to break a few rules and genuinely have a great time with fabric and the experience that we’ve built up over the years." Green and orange felt cut-out mythical animals grace the backs of chairs in the ’50s style restaurant, Argentinean blankets were made into rough looking chairs, and patchwork sofas were hand-sewn by Kemp and her friend over the course of five days.
"It would be so boring to do all the same. I mean this is the fun of it," says Kemp. "And the wonderful thing here is nobody is shy at all. As soon as the doors were open, everyone wanted to come in and have a look. There’s none of the English reserve, which is actually wonderful."
Crosby Street Hotel
Owner: Firmdale Hotels
Architecture Firm: Stonehill & Taylor Architects PC, New York
Architecture Project Team: Paul Taylor, project and design principal; Lanna Sokolova, project manager; and Lina Aldana, project architect
Interior Design: Kit Kemp, owner and design director, Firmdale Hotels
MEP Engineer: WSP Flack & Kurtz; Andrew Hlushko, project principal; and Charles Kryksman
Structural Engineer: DeSimone Consulting Engineers, P.L.L.C.; Scott Fehmel PE, project principal; and Nat Tocci, project engineer
LEED Consultant: Viridian Energy & Environmental, LLC; Adrian Tuluca, project principal; and Drew Schectman, project engineer
Head Sculpture: Jaume Plensa
Dog Sculptures: Justine Smith
Little Dog Collage: Peter Clark
Dog Painting Above Fireplace: Francois Bard
Red, Black, and White Painting: Callum Innes
Headboard Fabric: Manuel Canovas
Curtain Fabric: Osborne & Little
Wall Fabric: Robert Allen