Marcel Breuer’s Brutalist Office Transformed Into Hotel Marcel: A Sustainable Renovation
Becker + Becker turned a brutalist building in New Haven, Connecticut, that was built in the 1970s by Hungarian-American architect Marcel Breuer into a Passive House hotel.
Becker + Becker, a design firm from Connecticut, bought the building from IKEA in 2019 after it had been empty for more than 20 years. They kept the facade of the Breuer-designed building but made changes to the inside.
The 165-room hotel will open in May 2022 as part of Hilton Hotels’ Tapestry Collection. It will be called Hotel Marcel in honour of the original architect.
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Becker + Becker, acting as both architect and developer, has spent the last three years renovating the former office building, removing asbestos and repairing its facade.
Breuer’s original design was kept, which was a wide building with a hole in the middle that was held up by columns and divided the upper and lower floors into two parts.
Except for a section of the building that was demolished by IKEA to make way for a parking lot, the structure appears as designed by Breuer.
According to Becker + Becker president Bruce Becker, the project had two main goals: to preserve the landmark structure; and to find ways to make the building more sustainable.
It was meant to be the first hotel in the U.S. to be certified as a Passive House, and it also wants to be LEED Platinum.
“With the climate crisis we’re facing, there’s a realisation that building a new building is really difficult to justify,” Becker.
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“Poured-in-place concrete walls and precast concrete panels are usually easier than other wall systems to seal and make airtight to prevent infiltration.”
More than 1,000 solar panels completely power the structure and were even used to power the final stages of construction. Solar panels cover the roof as well as a solar field near the hotel.
Other interventions made by the studio included opening up utility spaces in the centre of the top floor—a double-height space supported by steel trusses—to create a courtyard that allows light into a series of meeting rooms.
This opening also made it possible for the architecture studio to build light wells, which give rooms in the middle of the floor plates more light.
The interiors of the hotel were created by Brooklyn design firm Dutch East Design, who transformed the offices and research labs into 165 luxury rooms, as well as lobbies and amenity spaces.
Because much of the original interiors were unusable, Dutch East brought in furniture from a number of local craftsmen.
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In a nod to the exterior, the interior designers put a terracotta frieze in the lobby that looks like the precast concrete panels on the outside of the building.
Most of the public and private areas of the hotel have white walls with wood finishes and few pieces of furniture.
The building was built in 1970 as the offices of Armstrong Rubber Company. It was designed by Marcel Breuer.
It was converted into the North American headquarters of Pirelli in 1988 but remained vacant until 2003 when it was purchased by Swedish furniture giant IKEA.
Breuer was a significant twentieth-century architect who received the AIA Gold Medal in 1968.
As the Nazis gained power in Germany, he fled to London and later moved to the United States, where he designed over 100 buildings, including New York’s Whitney Museum of American Art.
In 2000, the brutalist office was given historical significance thanks to the work of the Alliance for Architecture of the New Haven Arts Council.
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“Brutalist buildings like the Pirelli building are works of art that can inspire and elevate the quality and meaning of our daily lives,” said Becker, whose firm has restored a number of mid-century structures in New England.
It’s difficult to put a price on that, but it’s fundamental to our humanity.”
Another Brutalist structure that has been renovated for a new user is an office building in Greece, renovated by Georges Batzios Architects. ERA Architects in Canada took a mid-century apartment building and turned it into the tallest retrofitted Passivehaus building in the world.
Written By Tannu Sharma | Subscribe To Our Telegram Channel To Get Latest Updates And Don’t Forget To Follow Our Social Media Handles Facebook | Instagram | LinkedIn | Twitter. To Get the Latest Updates From Arco Unico