The newly opened Times Square EDITION is a canvas for legendary hotelier Ian Schrager’s then, now and what’s next. Partnering with Marriott International, he’s harnessed the provocative spectacle of New York’s decade-defining Studio 54 nightspot (which he cofounded in 197 with the late Steve Rubell), distilled the essence of the irreverent chic that he and designer Andrée Putman infused into the granddaddy of all U.S. boutique hotels, Morgans (which debuted in 1984), and re-envisioned what it would take to make the same magic in this 39-story highrise, the first newbuild hotel in the Times Square “bow-tie” since 2000.
It’s all built off an idea that despite technology’s resonance since the late 70s, “with the swipe left, swipe right, the iPhones. At the end of the day, we’re the same people. We have the same urges (for escape),” says Schrager.
“There’s a serenity that Ian now craves,” explains George Yabu, cofounder of Yabu Pushelberg along with partner Glenn Pushelberg. Schrager made it clear from the outset that he didn’t want guests “bombarded with a ll of this information” after the “visual assault that is Times Square.” The design brief came down to a key word: simplicity. Whether in its purest form in the guestrooms or modulated to turn up the volume a bit in the public spaces, that buzz-word is the anchor of the whole experience.
Upon arrival, guests are swept up to the 10th-floor reception area where the oasis officially begins.
Public spaces maintain a clean, residentially inflected black-and-white color scheme (those tones provide subtle echoes of past Schrager projects) but the focus on greenery hits a vital 2019 high note. Living walls lend a park-like feel behind the check-in desk on one side and the brand’s signature concealed staircase that leads up to the restaurant, 701 West, on the other. There, the palette strays slightly with primary-color-blocked areas of green (in the cocktail lounge), blue and even yellow (in one of the main dining areas). It will also feature a unique breed of service and food presentation—another “sleight of hand” way, as Yabu describes it, of injecting the drama of Schrager’s past.
Two floors down lives the 3,000-sq.-ft. Paradise Club—a unique entertainment venue that serves as a cabaret theater meets a “supper club” (as Pushelberg dubs it), which will be home to the House of Yes multidisciplinary theater company. “it doesn’t feel like a nightclub,” he explains, as it provides the intimacy often lacking in one. Two murals painted by Chandler Noah and Diego Castaño of En Viu Studio cover the walls behind tufted leather banquettes with St. Laurent Marble tables. Hovering above it all is a custom ceiling starburst light feature with 1,952 individually controlled LED nodes created by lighting designers Fisher Marantz Stone—the masterminds also responsible for the lighting of Studio 54, the 2000 Times Square New Year’s Eve ball drop, and the lighting of a number of other monument buildings not just in New York but around the world.
Should guests start to need to retreat from that buzz, all F&B offerings include artfully landscaped outdoor spaces by landscape architects Madison Cox, with 5,500 sq. ft. of plant material used throughout, from the 150 8-ft.-tall Arborvitae Evergreen Hedges flanking the perimeters of each terrace to the 12-ft.-tall River Birth trees, just to name a few species. The ivy-covered Outdoor Gardens at The Terrace restaurant on the 9th floor is a mini botanical garden, featuring potted tropical palm trees, hanging ferns and imported hanging lanterns throughout.
The guestrooms, with their non-reflective surfaces, create an enclave far from the flashing signage and shock-jock colors of the streetscape. The color palette is almost ethereal: white-washed oak herringbone floors, white sheer drapery with ivory blackout lining, a custom long-bleached European wide plank larch desk, custom-designed armchair in ivory leather upholstery and ivory large-slab ceramic floor tiles in the shower. Very small footprints appear larger by opening up the entrance to the bathrooms, as well as soaking tubs and terraces in the corner suites that maintain a connection to the outside. The artwork also distances these spaces from the neighborhood kitsch. Case in point: a Trunk Archives-curated collection of Andy Warhol Factory (Warhol was a Studio 54 regular) images from photographers such as Jerry Schatzberg and David McCabe. Some reminders are more basic: an apple, slice of cheesecake, a small bag of confetti thrown after the world-famous New Year’s Eve ball drop, or a colorful sweet nosh that nods to the Pop-Tarts World eatery—a flash in the Times Square pan of 2010, showcasing hourly light shows.
“You need lots of layers (of spaces and experiences) to make things really successful now-a-days,” Pushelberg says of the variety of offerings at the EDITION, so far-reaching they’re almost resort-like in scope. And the hope is that more luxury properties and venues will follow suit and try to make Times Square home, regenerating the area into the epicenter of sophistication and culture that it was in its heyday.