How a Landmark Marcel Breuer Constructing Turned a Groundbreaking, Power-Aware Resort

It’s no marvel 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 Constructing 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 Firm. 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 approach for a car parking zone. The Breuer-designed landmark fell into disrepair till just lately, when Becker’s agency purchased the positioning with plans to herald its new chapter.

For roughly 20 years, Marcel Breuer’s 1970 Pirelli Constructing (also referred to as the Armstrong Rubber Constructing) sat largely empty beside the busy Interstate 95 in New Haven Connecticut, unused by its then-owner, Ikea, besides as a technique 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 12 months of finding out 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 most recent energy-efficiency applied sciences. 

The now-open Resort Marcel claims it will likely be the nation’s first net-zero vitality resort, which means that the constructing can generate one hundred pc of its personal electrical energy and vitality, together with for the kitchen and laundry. Photo voltaic 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 techniques 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 Seventies workplace constructing turned resort.

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

“We additionally recycled a complete constructing—the only most vital factor we did environmentally,” Becker notes. “Once you construct a brand new construction, that preliminary carbon impression is commonly larger than that of operations for the complete 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 present constructing. Most resort rooms are 12 toes large, however the window placement on the Resort Marcel dictates a 15-foot width for the bigger visitor rooms.

Whereas 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—had been chosen for the woodworking, and solely sustainably harvested hardwoods had 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 save lots of a greenback after which discover that they should spend 5 over the subsequent 5 years?,” he says. 

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

The brutalist symmetry that dominates the outside is echoed all through the inside, too. The oblong 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 lights within the public areas (which had been recycled from the present, generic workplace lights). The motif reemerges within the camel-colored vinyl panels that make up the visitor room headboards, and within the metallic frames of the toilet sinks and bathe door. 

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

No lingering workplace constructing sterility right here, both—there’s heat within the colour 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, maintaining tempo with the regular five-foot module that organizes Breuer’s current design. 

Whereas 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 now this lovely Anni Albers material for the job,” Becker says of when that point comes.)

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

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