Trojan Forces

Designers disrupt hospitality from the inside out with Moxy Times Square.

Developer Lightstone Group knew it wanted to chuck expectations out the window for the 612-key New York debut of Marriott Intl.’s red-hot Moxy flag (honored as one of Boutique Design’s 2017 Up-and-Coming Hoteliers). Who wouldn’t want to be a fly on the wall when George Yabu, Glenn Pushelberg (co-founders of their eponymous firm) and Rockwell Group partner Shawn Sullivan got the brief to leave their “industry titan” status at the door and break their own rules?

This wasn’t a request to channel their expertise into a new sector or bring their best practices to the conversion of a former hotel that served working-class men a century ago, before going through several incarnations, including one as the headquarters of The New York Times. Think of it more as a request to stick it to the Airbnbs, boutique brands, quirky upgraded hostels and hidden-gem independents trying to claim that only outsiders can change the hospitality game.

Moxy Times Square | Meeting Studio

Private screening? Removable dividers allow meeting spaces to be combined with each other or serve as an extension of the lobby bar. Photo: Michael Kleinberg

Marriott Intl. wasn’t hanging back, either. “No one remembers boring,” says David Kepron, the hotel giant’s vice president, distinctive premium brands. “While you may raise an eyebrow or maybe blush, you’ll talk about Moxy. Not just because of the sexy ads and collateral, but because Moxy is different. ‘Different’ defines memorable moments.”

Moxy Times Square | Check-in Atrium

Check-in is up in the air, thanks to a high-flying art installation and the airy atrium space. Photo: Michael Kleinberg

It helped that years of research with focus groups testing out some of the key concepts gave all the teams involved a metric on the viability of hyper-social, subversive hotels and their appeal to elusive millennial and millennial-minded guests. With that green light, the designers dove into the challenge.

From the wood-lined check-in atrium to the rooftop bar with PG-13 sculptures of animals on a mini putt-putt course (called Foreplay, natch), the hotel plays with different visual shades of illicit, subversive spaces. You can even party on down in a meeting room.

Moxy Times Square | Magic Hour Rooftop Bar

There's nothing bear-ly there about the rooftop. Making more-is-more work here means balancing intense lighting and giant focal points. Photo: Alyssa Greenberg

“The meeting spaces are very much part of the lobby lounge in this hotel—they can be opened up and act as spill-over for the lobby bar, and that connection is reflected in the choice of furnishings and finishes,” says Yabu.

In the guest rooms, which are inspired by ocean liner cabins, the twist comes from the configurations. Beds might be placed end to end, not side by side, or in bunks. A clever kit-of-parts approach—under bed storage, an urban-meets-rustic range of textures and a neutral palette—simplified giving each of the various layouts visual continuity.

Moxy Times Square | Magic Hour Rooftop Bar

The arrival experience for the rooftop sets a playful, carnival-esque tone. Photo: Seth Browarnik

“Each room type repeats and has its own typical or standardized conditions. Despite appearances, it actually wasn’t that difficult to map out the multiple configurations and design solutions for each room type. Then we stacked them,” says Pushelberg. They also configured lighting with the flexibility to suit any possible way guests might arrange the furniture.

Moxy Times Square | Double Guest Room

It's all about where guests end up—placing the footboards of the two beds against each each other frees up floor space. Photo: Michael Kleinberg

The Magic Hour Rooftop & Lounge space offers a punchy contrast to the innocence of the rooms. Sullivan shed his firm’s usual impeccably sensuous approach to nightlife in favor of a brash, carnival-esque feel. Bear-shaped topiary, a working carousel and Toulouse-Lautrec-worthy lighting set the stage.

Details like the rows of elephant head-shaped lights on the way up layer in eye-catching appeal. Sullivan used the same high-octane approach to guests’ first glimpse of the other dining venues (sandwich shop Egghead, seafood brasserie Legasea), even if guests are stopping by at 7 am, not 10 pm.

Moxy Times Square | Magic Hour Corridor

Trunk show: Elephant-trunk-shaped lights play up the carnival vibe on the way up to the rooftop. Photo: Courtesy of Michael Kleinberg

“The arrival experience is also a critical component in all-day dining destinations,” Sullivan says. “It’s important to think about the transition from the street and into the restaurant. For Legasea, a grand stair flanked by an antique mirror wall, with a skylight above, leads outside guests to the restaurant. At the top of the stair is a host area defined by pale green tile walls and metal and glass doors where guests can also arrive directly from the hotel lobby. Simple materials such as tile, concrete, terrazzo and brick make Egghead a cool daytime perch for guests and locals.”

Why break the rules when you can rewrite them? Projects like this argue persuasively that now is the time to question the status quo—even when it’s your own.
 


PROJECT PARTICIPANTS

CLIENTS
Lightstone Group
Marriott Intl.
TAO Group

DESIGN FIRMS
Yabu Pushelberg (guest rooms, public spaces): George Yabu and Glenn Pushelberg, co-founders

Rockwell Group (restaurants): Shawn Sullivan, partner

ARCHITECT
Stonehill & Taylor

ACCESSORIES
Peerless Rattan
Roberto Cavalli Home

ARTWORK
Evolving Image
Sawada

CAROUSEL SEATING AREA
Carousel USA
C&A Seneca Construction
Dinerite Seating

CEILINGS
Expanko Resilient Flooring
JB Rope Supply

CONCRETE
Concrete Works East
Trueform Concrete

DISPLAY COLUMN/CEILING MOUNT FIXTURE
Conant Metal & Light

EGGHEAD TOY
RAMP

FABRICS
Angela Brown
Architex
Fabricut
Holly Hunt
Maharam
Opuzen
Outdoor Fabrics
Perennials
Rodolph Inc.
Sunbrella

FIXTURES
Kohler Plumbing/Kallista
Newport Brass

FLOORING
Atlas Concorde
Handy Deck

FURNITURE
Balanza Co.
Dinerite Seating
Pyrolave
The Furniture Perfect

LEATHER
Cortina Leathers
Demar Leather

LIGHTING
Canopy Designs
Circa Lighting
Currey and Co.
Nickey Kehoe
Rich Brilliant Willing
Savoy Lighting

METAL MESH
Kent Design & Manufacturing
New Metals Inc.

MIRRORS
Bendheim
MunnWorks
Plaskolite Inc.
SPANCraft Glass

PAINT
Benjamin Moore
Meoded Decorative Paint & Plaster

SURFACING
3form
Acrylite
Architecture + Inc
BK Handbuilt
Envel Design Corp.
Formica

TILE/STONEWORK
Design and Director Source
Fireclay Tile
Imagine Tile
Hudson Tile Supply
Midtown Terrazzo
Nemo Tile
New Jersey Tile & Stone Inc.
New York Stone
Villa Lagoon Tile

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