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The Standard

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Standard Exhibitionism

It hasn’t been in the news much lately the standard hotel in New York that straddles The High Line, is relatively infamous.  It captured a lot of attention last summer after opening with its sexually charged advertising campaign.  An early promotional advertisement declared “We’ll put up with your banging if you put up with ours,” and the Hotel’s Facebook page stated the situation a bit more clearly.

“We encourage you to exercise your inner exhibitionist. Please share your intimate, and explicit photos with us — those floor to ceiling windows aren’t just for the views . . .”

Whether you agree with the strategy or not you can’t deny that it was effective.  The campaign and its results generated a lot of press last summer.  Some positive and some negative.

The Standard Hotel New York.

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“We saw a naked girl jumping up and down on a trampoline right in front of the window,” said Shannon Brickner, who works at a boutique on West 13th Street.

“From the street, I saw a man and a woman. Everyone was looking up at them.

“They were facing outwards, and I could see their backsides pressed up against the window. I thought it was a photo shoot or porn.”

Complained a waitress at the Brass Monkey, “It’s a free porn show.

“You hear the cheering, then you look up and see naked people. You get some people that don’t realize. Then you get the real exhibitionists.”

Some unhappy passers-by were disgusted, too. “Recently, I saw a man masturbating in one of the windows,” said one person who asked not to be identified. “That’s when it left the funny side and moved to the gross, dark side.” S.

Not everyone was surprised, some see it as par for the course for an edgy neighbourhood.

Grandparent Gwen Barrett said “That kind of stuff here is anticipated,”
Still, “I definitely wouldn’t want to bring my grandkids here,” she added.

The controversy over what takes place in front of The Standards windows raise questions of decency, control, and responsibility.  A City Counciler has gone on the attack declaring that “The alleged actions of The Standard are unacceptable.” Of course what exactly is the hotel to do?  Sure the Hotel can tone down the advertising that invites people to stand naked in front of the windows, but people have been going to hotels and stripping down in front of the windows for long time, even before The Standard opened.  It’s just that most don’t happen to have a public park / viewing deck right below.  It isn’t really possible to legislate that people must close their blinds when they plan have a nude romp inside their own homes, so we can’t really do it for hotels either.  Whatever your position on the nude antics that take place in the windows it certainly keeps the city interesting!

The Standard’s Lap Dance for The High Line

standard-from-the-roof

Its been a while since we did an architectural feature, lately we’ve been focusing more on public projects, and sustainable initiatives but this project re-piqued my interest as its connected to an urban regeneration project (The High Line) that I have been following for almost a year and a half now.  For any of you who are unaware The High Line is an urban renewal project in New York City that has taken the old elevated freight rail line that runs down the lower west side between 34th street and Gansevoort Street in the West Village, and at the moment most significantly through the meat packing district (MePa) that is sandwiched between the West Village and Chelsae.  The project will turn this former freight line that has been unused since 1980 into an elevated parkway in the style of the Promenade Plantee’ in Paris.

Hotelier Andre Balazs, owner of the Chateau Marmont and The Standard chain of hotels will soon be officially opening The Standard New York on a lot that would have been considered ‘problematic’ before The High Line conversion, but is now considered plum due to its immediate proximity. Which could be understating it a little, The High Line cuts across Balazs’ lot diagonally.

“For the first time I had a hard time imagining what the hotel should look like,” Balazssays. “I usually renovate older buildings, and this was ground-up construction. Add to that the matter of the High Line and it was a unique challenge.” S

standard-guest-room

As such the Hotel is suspended above The High Line on concrete pilotis, which suspend the hotel 56 feet above ground level and 30 feet above the track. This caused one real estate blogto mention that the Hotel is in a ‘perpetual lapdance’ with The High Line. The design is a bit of a progression through time periods. Overall the building looks a lot like a Le Corbusier, built in the International style. The building is two concrete framed glass walls bushed together at a slight angle. It evokes an open book standing on its end.

“If you had to look at this project from an urban-planning perspective,” says Balazs, “it gets more modern, in terms of building type and décor, the higher you get. The ground floor relates to early in the last century, the time of the High Line. The hotel floors, in the tower, are midcentury—I was looking at Eero Saarinen, Mies van der Rohe, and Arne Jacobsen, who had designed an amazing hotel in Stockholm in the 50s.” S

While many of us plebes would be unable to stay in the hotel once it has had its grand opening the hotel is currently open(ish) as the website states. Some of the rooms are open even though the construction isn’t finished a a pretty affordable rate. Check out the the hotel chain’s website for rates.

standard-map

One of the things that I find most exciting about these developments is that they prove that things that once were considered eyesores and only worthy of being torn down can be re-purposedinto serious assets.  The park is considered one of the most innovative and influential urban-renewal projects of our time. With an imaginativeapproach to city planning, and some creative reuse of existing infrastructure,  we can come up with some truly stellar results.

Photos on flickr

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