In 2011, Archer Humphryes began the remarkable architecture for the hotel on the site. André Balazs, a long term friend for over a decade knew that they would carry out a truly impressive scheme. André Balazs' first hotel in Europe, the project demanded the hotelier’s precision with exceptional results from the architects, continuing the hotel portfolio that includes the Chateau Marmont and The Mercer in the USA.
Art Historian Pevsner wrote of Pearsall’s original architecture that it was the best surviving example of the Gothic style used by London fire stations. All in stone and masonry, with their divergent adopted styles of the period the fire stations were collectively described as: “distinctive, arresting and original with their angular outline, paired windows, prickly detailing and crenelated look out towers”
Reinstatement of the original Portland Stone Façade was a pivotal architectural decision, deploying modern methodologies to resolve the exuberant Gothic style. Their own extensive knowledge of stone detailing can be seen in the application of new fluid ogee arches, carved rosettes, crenelated parapet, articulated gabled buttresses and fluted columns lining the openings for the glazed concertina doors.
In creating the 5-storey new architectural tower that joins seamlessly with the fully remodelled fire station, they studied Pearsall‘s drawings from the 19th Century. Generating a design that retained the intrinsic character of the site’s history in its conservation and a new ‘sister’ that sits alongside the original building ensued, a ‘facsimile’. Conceived as one, they reflect the historical significance of the architectural relationship in the buildings reciprocal physical expression.
Working closely with Andre Balazs’s in house design team and the designers Studio KO each of the 26 hotel suites has been designed to reflect the idea of domesticity, a home. Each suite designed to reflect the personality of the owners’ hotels, at the same time absorbing the natural position of the light, the site and differing details adding a sense of enchantment for the guests.
Suites are provided on each of the upper floors in the new tower with a Conservatory Bar at the ground floor: steel windows have Portland Stone frames and include 9 square fanlights with rotated ribbed glass inset. Bricks are handmade to imperial dimensions, aligning with existing coursing and bonded with precise vertical joints. A prominent new gable end, facing Chiltern Street, complete with a cathedral window with carved stone tri-foil motifs, inset within the brickwork depth, is the tour de force of the new architecture.
Slab marble floors in the bathrooms, handmade tiles in the shower and long benches in the windows are examples of how the architects have responded. Public areas of the hotel are ornamental and luxurious. The fire engine appliance room is reinstated as the restaurant. Hand woven Indian jute ceiling panels create an initial impression of the restaurant, with the reception revealing dramatic straw panels with powerful single lines of colour interwoven, a visually strong abstracted pattern. The walls of the conservatory bar are wrapped in bathed honey hues of onyx, cradled below a ceiling of basket panels lined with gilded gold frames.