A Park Runs Through It: Touring the Standard in New York

One of the toughest gigs in architecture is working in heritage districts. An architect can do a slavish replication of historical elements, or capture the nature of the area, which in this case is the tough, hard-edged and industrial meatpacking district in New York City

Toss in an old elevated railway in the process of being converted into a park and it becomes more of a challenge. But owner/developer Andre Balazs and Polshek Architects have risen to the challenge. On stilts, yet.In the picture above one can see the hotel rising above the high line park- the clearance was mandated by the rules of the railway that still controlled the line when the hotel was started. Below is what looks old, but is new construction designed to reflect the warehouses in the neighbourhood, not entirely successfully.

But the tower succeeds brilliantly. Andre Balazs shows off the roof terrace;

The view north, framed by the structure.


photo by Harry Wakefield

The Standard is not designed to be a super-luxury hotel; the rooms are SMALL. But in this case, less really is more, due to careful detailing, ship-like cabinetry and warm wood ceilings.But there are other features that make it feel far larger than it is:

This is the view from inside the shower, through its "peek-a-boo" wall toward the floor to ceiling glass exterior wall. Balazs says that most visitors are either alone or "romantic" so that it usually works; traveling with kids, it doesn't.

Even in the larger rooms, all of the furniture is custom designed to maximize space, the tables are on lifts for comfortably going from coffee table to dining to desk height, everything calculated to get the most out of very small spaces. Even full of bloggers, it is bright and open.

And everywhere, the spaces and windows are designed to frame a view.


Even prosaic things like fire stairs are designed to look good and provide an experience.

After an era when everything just got bigger and more lavish, it is a pleasure to visit a modestly scaled and beautifully put together project like this. In economic times such as these, it is a joy to be at the intersection of public investment in parks like the high line, and clever new architecture and design like the Standard.

Tags: Architecture | Tourism | Urban Life

Best of TreeHugger