Gowanus Inn & YardWill Speros • Photography by Coke Bartrina • April 25, 2018
Populated with warehouses old and new, the industrial Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York serves as perhaps an unlikely host for the newest property in the Ascend Hotel Collection by Choice Hotels. spans five stories and marries pragmatism and emotion in a unique fashion that feels right at home alongside its more stark neighbors. Beyond a blue door and metal awning, the 76-room hotel welcomes visitors to an open lobby characterized by high ceilings for optimal exposure to natural light.
“The aesthetic was overall a mix of industrial with Old Americana,” says Rafael Prieto, cofounder and creative director of Mexico City and New York design and architecture firm . The otherwise understated environment is punctuated with furniture adorned with blue and red tones inspired by artist Robert Bechtle—particularly his painting ’61 Pontiac, which depicts an all-American suburban family in the midcentury.
Details like gridded windows and brick floors—albeit in a herringbone pattern—in the lobby accent the simple aesthetic of Gowanus warehouses, while comfortable fabrics contrast a locally informed material palette of metal, concrete, wood, and other raw elements. The lobby’s bright color palette is “based on making a quick, simple transitional spot between checking in and crossing doors into the whole experience,” he says.
Corridors are clad with darker textures and gray plaster to offset the lighter guestrooms. Adorned with handsome white oak, minimalist accommodations are designed to maximize their limited square footage with comfortable, custom furniture configured to make them feel larger. Suites are crafted with timber planks that serve as the backdrop for charcoal or black furnishings.
“The big challenge in the project was to build a hotel with a reduced space for rooms but making it the most functional and welcoming room,” Prieto explains, “making the interaction with each element in the room a natural necessity of a reaction for the experience of the customer.”
The juxtaposition of rawness with modernity expresses the evolution of Brooklyn, especially in the revitalizing Gowanus neighborhood. The hotel has succeeded in capturing “the simplicity of the neighborhood,” Prieto says, “making people living there feel there is a new space designed for them.”