NEW YORK—The Renaissance New York Times Square recently revealed renovations that included a revamped R Lounge plus the addition of fourth- floor guestrooms with outdoor terraces.
The 26-floor, 317-room property on Seventh Ave. and 48th St. opened in 1992 and underwent a major renovation by designer Jordan Mozer in 2007. Benjamin Noriega-Ortiz, principal designer at New York-based BNO Design, handled the new redesign.
According to Christine Devers, general manager, Renaissance New York Times Square, Noriega-Ortiz was chosen for the project because of his ties to and knowledge of New York City.
“We were seeking a designer who was in touch with the vibrant feel of the city, who was a little edgy, who could capture the urban excitement and who could create a space with opportunity for discovery at every turn,” said Devers. “Benjamin has a strong pulse on the city, is socially active and knows what is trending in design, fashion and culture. He knew how to give our spaces a New York City vibe.”
The R Lounge, located on the hotel’s third floor adjacent to the Living Room, features a new open-air design and wall-to-wall windows on three sides. Some of the elements of Mozer’s renovation were retained.
“The R Lounge was designed to blend in; therefore, it’s a monochromatic space that allows the view to become the star of the room,” said Noriega-Ortiz. “We reused some of the existing futuristic furniture designed exclusively for the hotel by Jordan Mozer and added reproduction antique wood chairs and a simple, long tea table. We also designed reverse camelback settees in order to not hide the view while seated facing Times Square. A pair of ‘arms’—low built-in marble tables—welcome you to the room and serve as hot and cold food displays for morning breakfast.”
Devers added that the redesign of the R Lounge was all about creating “a hip, chic environment.”
“For R Lounge, in the center of the Theater District, we saw the trending dining patterns change,” she said. “Guests did not necessarily want a big heavy dinner; they were interested in smaller plates and sharing items. We decided on a lounge concept that was more focused on beverage than food. It would be a place where you could order food but not full traditional dinners.”
R Lounge’s location overlooking one of the world’s most popular tourist attractions determined the lighting and color scheme Noriega-Ortiz used.
“The original ceiling lighting design by Jordan Mozer was kept a bit dimmed to its lowest setting, allowing Times Square to illuminate the room,” he said. “We added color-kinetic LED lighting at the entry, where the DJ plays every so often, to add drama when you look back at the lobby.
“The color scheme of the R Lounge is gold and silver,” he continued. “The reason is that there is so much color in Times Square that we didn’t want to compete. Therefore, metallic colors become background colors.”
Devers summed up the design of the room as “a very modern lounge, with different spaces in which to have a new experience every time you visit. It can be electric and exciting, while also allowing people to have quiet space in which to relax.
She continued, “From the amazing views of Times Square to the discrete ‘hole in the wall’ and ‘bedroom’ areas, these create different experiences. Guests can look out over Times Square, or retreat quietly to read a good book in a more intimate and private area. They can sit down with pencils to color at our large communal round table, or pluck a book from our amazing book tower, which is like a giant tree whose branches are filled with hundreds of books. It can be a lively cool space where you can people watch, and it can also have quiet pockets. We’ve noticed that guests, even when traveling alone, do not like to sit alone in their guestrooms. So they come to R Lounge and choose how they’d like to utilize the space.”
The seven outdoor terrace rooms are in a space on the fourth floor that was previously occupied by meeting rooms which were not booked frequently due to size constraints, according to Devers, who added, “We also did not have enough premium room types in the hotel, so we decided to convert the existing meeting room spaces to the one-of-a-kind terrace rooms. We felt strongly that these rooms would provide a unique experience for guests staying in Times Square and something they could not experience elsewhere.”
Inside the rooms, the colors are cement gray, white and taxicab yellow, while the floor features engineered LVT strip tiles that look like gray driftwood, according to Noriega-Ortiz.
“The cement gray is meant to represent that existing structure of the room as we stripped the walls. The white supplies a clean background for the guest’s colorful clothing, and the taxicab yellow situates you in NYC,” he said. “The gray driftwood-like tiles make the room still feel like a terrace.”
The furniture in the guestroom was custom designed to be multifunctional. “The bench under the TV serves as a luggage rack and chair for the teardrop-shaped pedestal table, which serves as a desk or a dining table,” said Noriega-Ortiz. “The small, round ottoman on the step next to the table can be a chair or a place to put your feet if you move it down to the room level. The yellow chaise is also a bed for an additional guest, and the vanity sink cabinet is also one of the night tables.”
Out on the terrace, Noriega-Ortiz noted, is “faux grass that feels and looks like real grass. We really didn’t want the view of a lot of furniture from the room. Therefore, a few of the outdoor terraces have round beds instead of chaises. The tables are in cement and there is only one teak chair. The rest of the ‘seating’ is sheep [figures]made in fiberglass. All of them are black, except a lone white one.”
One does not usually see sheep in Times Square and Noriega-Ortiz said he was surprised that they were a big hit with the hotel and guests.
“The sheep were really selected for the ‘pasture’ terraces because I didn’t want to see regular chairs from the room,” he noted. “They are the chairs. As it turned out, people loved them, and one established permanent residence in the lobby. Because the lobby is meant to be an enchanted secret garden, it makes sense that a sheep comes to visit.”
Devers noted the sheep hold some historical significance to the area. “The area that is now Times Square was once large farmland where live sheep roamed,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many guests have taken a selfie with the sheep. They’re extremely popular. We have even pulled the sheep theme through by selling products related to sheep, including Black Sheep yogurt, soaps and body lotions. For younger VIP guests, we offer a very cute stuffed sheep as a cuddly gift.”