11.02.2007

The Bowery 2007 Walk: Upscaling the Flophouse

The Bowery's northern blocks, from Cooper Square south toward the Kenmare-Delancey intersection, embrace the majority of the area's new construction. The most controversial new building, the Cooper Square Hotel, looms out of scale on 3rd Avenue, just yards before the Bowery technically begins.

I've passed through the area many times, and I often see people standing across the street from the hotel looking like they want to tear it down with their bare hands. I talked to one guy the other day who wanted some affirmation that the building was "ugly." I've seen design professionals waving their arms and shaking their heads. The hotel will market itself as "downtown luxury." There's no stopping it now.

Farther to the south, The Bowery Hotel at 335 Bowery, in business for several months now, strikes me and many others as a successful design. Handsome on the interior as well as exterior, the hotel builds upon and improves a pre-existing structure, expanding windows and opening terraces. The interior design blends old school ambience and modern comfort into something that can be appropriately described, for once, as casual elegance. Don't get too excited, however, unless you have over $500 to spend per night.

Another promising addition to the Bowery hotel "scene" will be the "green" hotel planned for 250 Bowery. Based on the renderings at their website, Flank Architects look like they understand the concept of scale. The perforated Corten steel exterior skin may play off the New Museum's aluminum mesh. Perhaps now all the Bowery buildings should wear metallic veils.

Other than visiting the New Museum of Contemporary Art, guests of these hotels will not likely hang out on the overly-wide Bowery and bargain shop for industrial Hobart mixers. They'll be out and about in the adjoining NoLita, a neighborhood that can only be described as precious, and on nearby streets of the Lower East Side. You can believe, though, that the pressure is on for many of the older existing Bowery businesses to leave.

The area does have some nice and affordable places to stay. Check out the Off SoHo Suites Hotel on Rivington, or the SoHotel, just off the Bowery on Broome.

See the complete walk here.

Images: at top, the unfinished Cooper Square Hotel; below, The Bowery Hotel

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