How a Landmark Marcel Breuer Building Became a Groundbreaking, Energy-Conscious Hotel

It’s no surprise that architect and developer Bruce Redman Becker is a fan of Marcel Breuer: Becker grew up with a furnishings designer mom and an industrial designer father in New Canaan, Connecticut, which holds a trove of postwar properties designed by the likes of Breuer, Philip Johnson, and Eliot Noyes. It’s not stunning both then, that as an grownup, it pained Becker to see Breuer’s 1970 Pirelli Building in close by New Haven sitting unused for years, besides as a brutalist billboard for Ikea banners promoting the neighboring superstore. 

The hulking concrete tower was initially designed by the Bauhaus-trained architect because the headquarters and analysis labs for Armstrong Rubber Company. In 1988, Italian producer Pirelli made the positioning its North American headquarters, and Ikea purchased the construction in 2003, demolishing a big portion of the decrease stage to make method for a car parking zone. The Breuer-designed landmark fell into disrepair till not too long ago, when Becker’s agency purchased the positioning with plans to herald its new chapter.

For roughly 20 years, Marcel Breuer’s 1970 Pirelli Building (often known as the Armstrong Rubber Building) sat largely empty beside the busy Interstate 95 in New Haven Connecticut, unused by its then-owner, Ikea, besides as a strategy to promote the shop that shared its car parking zone. Architect and developer Bruce Redman Becker of Connecticut agency Becker + Becker purchased the positioning in early 2020 and transformed the construction right into a 165-room resort.

In early 2020, after a yr of learning and planning—”I didn’t wish to purchase the constructing after which discover we couldn’t execute one thing I used to be pleased with,” Becker says—Connecticut agency Becker + Becker started changing the constructing right into a boutique resort the place excessive design shares a room with the newest energy-efficiency applied sciences. 

The now-open Hotel Marcel claims it will likely be the nation’s first net-zero power resort, that means that the constructing can generate one hundred pc of its personal electrical energy and power, together with for the kitchen and laundry. Solar panels mounted above the parking space and on the rooftop harvest sufficient energy for electrical energy, warmth, and sizzling water. A backup battery shops sufficient to run the resort methods as a micro-grid, even when New Haven’s energy goes down.

Brooklyn studio Dutch East Design used Bauhaus-inspired materials and colours to introduce heat and playfulness all through the Nineteen Seventies workplace constructing turned resort.

The agency additionally designed the 165-room resort in accordance with Passive House ideas to keep up indoor temperatures and air high quality. Becker says this purpose was achieved thanks partly to Breuer’s initially strong building. (The renovation concerned the set up of recent triple-glazed home windows, which have been simply accommodated by the prevailing constructing’s deep window openings, for example.) Along with the sealed home windows, the construction was additionally generously insulated to make sure a high-performance envelope. 

“We additionally recycled an entire constructing—the one most necessary factor we did environmentally,” Becker notes. “When you construct a brand new construction, that preliminary carbon impression is commonly better than that of operations for the whole lifetime of the constructing.” 

The beneficiant scale of the nook king visitor room displays Becker + Becker’s adherence to the five-foot module laid out by Breuer for the prevailing constructing. Most resort rooms are 12 ft huge, however the window placement on the Hotel Marcel dictates a 15-foot width for the bigger visitor rooms.

While sustainability got here first within the agency’s issues for the renovation, it was not at the price of magnificence or a deep appreciation for Breuer’s unique framework. Becker + Becker introduced in Dutch East Design to assist with the interiors, working with the Brooklyn studio to pick out sustainable materials, furnishings, and paints that wouldn’t off-gas, which refers to when new, manufactured merchandise launch unstable natural compounds (VOCs). 

Regional producers—Stickley in New York and the New Traditionalists in Torrington, Connecticut—have been chosen for the woodworking, and solely sustainably harvested hardwoods have been used. The long-lasting supplies and fittings chosen for the renovation are a part of Becker’s wise and sustainable plan. “Why would anybody select to avoid wasting a greenback after which discover that they should spend 5 over the subsequent 5 years?,” he says. 

Wooden casements fabricated offsite by Stickley have been fitted to every newly put in triple-glaze window. The angles of the outside and inside openings match precisely. “We wished that little little bit of geometry to occur all through the entire venture,” says William Oberlin of Dutch East Design. 

The brutalist symmetry that dominates the outside is echoed all through the inside, too. The rectangular rhythm of the precast concrete panel facade seems within the new window frames, in addition to within the skinny, black border that outlines the oblong lighting within the public areas (which have been recycled from the prevailing, generic workplace lights). The motif reemerges within the camel-colored vinyl panels that make up the visitor room headboards, and within the steel frames of the lavatory sinks and bathe door. 

The rectangular, upright headboards within the visitor rooms reference the precast concrete panels on the constructing’s exterior. Dutch East Design’s purpose was “to reference the Bauhaus, Marcel Breuer, and the constructing itself, and let that be a hero for the venture,” says Oberlin.

No lingering workplace constructing sterility right here, both—there’s heat within the coloration palette and the layering of Bauhaus-inspired materials all through. A hall carpet designed by Dutch East options giant grey ovals that repeat within the sample each 30 inches, retaining tempo with the regular five-foot module that organizes Breuer’s current design. 

While furnishing the visitor rooms with Breuer’s iconic Cesca chairs was an costly funding, Becker predicts the items will final for many years with solely the occasional want for reupholstery. (“We have this lovely Anni Albers cloth for the job,” Becker says of when that point comes.)

“This constructing is the way forward for buildings,” says Oberlin.



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