Rockwell Group partner Greg Keffer led the Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards project. He joined Rockwell in 2012
What was the starting point for the design?
When we started to research the project, we did a lot of thinking around the term ‘equinox,’ an event when daytime and night-time are approximately equal in duration. The autumnal and vernal equinoxes also signify the beginning of fall and spring. Autumn is a time to turn inward, to slow down, and to rest, whereas spring is a time for rebirth, growth, and regeneration. We were inspired by the symbolism, so our design concept for the hotel celebrates transitions and transformations – from day to night and from active to restful.
The day to night transition is purposefully emphasised. The Sky Lobby transforms from day to night and is activated 24/7. In the day it’s a place to meet friends, work, or refuel. At night, lounge tables are set with soft individual lights to add a glow. In the guestrooms, horizontal linear lighting washes continuous leather panels along the millwork wall for a low, soft glow. Task lights + custom FFE lamps add an ambient glow to the room with integrated circadian lighting.
How would you sum up the design?
Guests will feel as if they’ve stepped into a sumptuous residential loft. The colour palette balances de-saturated neutrals with dark moments of contrast. Hints of deep, bold indigo reference the Hudson and signify the brand. Sleek, luxurious materials such as resin, figured metal, stone, and leather were used in unexpected ways.
Did the location inform the design?
Rockwell Group worked on several projects at Hudson Yards including The Shed (with lead architect Diller Scofidio + Renfro) and the adjoining residential tower, Fifteen Hudson Yards. We tried to push the boundaries of innovation with our projects at Hudson Yards. There was also an emphasis on creating opportunities for social experiences. What better location for Equinox to launch a hotel concept that focuses on creating a transformational experience for guests before they venture back into the kinetic frenzy of New York?
How does the design of the hotel help support guests in their fitness and wellness goals?
The Equinox experience is empathetic and human (user)-centric, from its design around the rhythms of the body to the biomorphic forms found throughout the space, and from the health-conscious dining and fitness options, to its acknowledgement of fundamental human qualities like curiosity and a need for community.
We considered what guests want to become when they’re staying at the hotel, and what of that hotel experience they want to take with them when they return to their hectic everyday lives.
Everything is expressive – there’s no ‘white space’
Can you give any examples of any unusual design features?
There’s a play of light and reflections throughout the hotel. The ground floor lobby sets the tone with a polished stainless steel sculpture representing movement of the human body set against a spalted French walnut wood wall.
We collaborated with London based artists Based Upon to create the sculpture as well as a monumental mirrored centerpiece in the Sky Lobby. As natural sunlight fades over the course of the day and the Sky Lobby lighting grows brighter, the reflection of the light sculpture become more dramatic in the mirrored sculpture and reflects the city beyond.
What makes this hotel special?
Hudson Yards is the flagship property for the Equinox Hotel brand, so for our studio it was exciting to work on an entirely new hotel concept.
In terms of the design, we created an environment where everything is expressive – there’s no ‘white space.’ The materiality is rich and layered
Do you have a personal favourite part of the hotel?
The guestrooms are pretty amazing. We focused on creating a cool, dark, and quiet oasis. The room is divided into a generous open entry foyer, a dressing room and bathroom space, and a calming sleep chamber. The room’s multi-functionality creates space for yoga, exercise, and meditation as well as for working and dining.
What was the biggest challenge of this project? What are you proudest of?
Creating a balance between action and stillness was a big challenge. It’s not easy to define a place that rejuvenates but also excites, that feels luxurious but not ostentatious, and seems modern but not cold.
"Our design concept for the hotel celebrates transitions and transformations – from day to night and from active to restful"
I’m definitely most proud that we feel we hit that note and it’s a unique design that reflects, and in some ways evolves, the Equinox brand everyone has come to know.
The Sky Lobby transforms in the evening
One of the ‘cool, quiet’ guestrooms
The hotel has an 8,000sq ft terrace bar with an infinity edge pool and views of the New York skyline