David Rockwell’s New York
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David Rockwell’s New York
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As one walks through the many floors of the David Rockwell Group HQ on Union Square, the sensation is akin to penetrating a huge beehive, with a labyrinth of spaces inhabited by 140 multi-talented individuals – architects, set designers, graphic designers, chefs, to name a few – each deeply immersed in the design project at hand, spanning hotels, restaurants, retail spaces, residential and office buildings, film and stage sets, environmental design and interactive technology design.

Chicago-born architect David Rockwell founded his firm in 1984 earning a reputation for high impact, dramatic design. With tremendous energy and discipline, he creates immersive environments, taking a cross-disciplinary approach and creating a synergy between technology, craftsmanship and design. A multi award winner, his projects range from the sleek interiors of the famed Nobu restaurants to the stage set for Broadway’s production of Hairspray. He was also called in to build a temporary viewing platform at Ground Zero in the days after 9/11, showing his versatility.

Rockwell’s recent projects include the W Singapore, Sentosa Cove Hotel for Starwood, the Library at the Public Theater in Downtown Manhattan and the Imagination Playground at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale. He is now at work on the first Nobu Caesars Palace in Las Vegas. Who better than this multi faceted architect – an individual who is clearly driven by an insatiable desire to make life for all of us more attuned with our contemporary world – to guide us around the ever-evolving neighbourhoods of New York City? Says David: “New York is the most amazing place in the world. It’s a collision of so many different ideas of lifestyle, people, buildings and dreams. On any given day, you can find a spectacle in one of New York’s many transformable public spaces. These events are incredibly immersive, very democratic and very ephemeral. But at its root, each event is about people coming together for a shared experience.

“There’s something about the combination of spontaneity, vibrancy, and the history. While the bird’s eye view of the iconic Manhattan skyline defines New York, what I think is most thrilling about living in the City is the explosion of activity on the ground level. New York has the amazing ability to encapsulate everyday lives.”

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Shinola
Eric Laignel
 

Esensual Living: What distinguishes New York from any other city in the world?

David Rockwell: New York is the most amazing place in the world. It’s a collision of so many different ideas of lifestyle, people, buildings and dreams. On any given day, you can find a spectacle in one of New York’s many transformable public spaces. These events are incredibly immersive, very democratic and very ephemeral. But at its root, each event is about people coming together for a shared experience.

EL   It is often said that New York is like the mythological bird the phoenix. Can you explain?

DR   New York is in a constant state of reinvention, from the park expansions along the Brooklyn waterfront to the new developments at Hudson Yards.

EL   What is it that gives New York its unique magic?

DR   There’s something about the combination of spontaneity, vibrancy, and the history. While the bird’s eye view of the iconic Manhattan skyline defines New York, what I think is most thrilling about living in the City is the explosion of activity on the ground level. New York has the amazing ability to encapsulate everyday lives.

EL   Describe life in New York

DR   It is a real playground for imagination and creativity, and a constant inspiration. The city streets are truly an ever-changing spectacle with such a diversity of people and intrigues. In New York, you should expect the unexpected every day – it’s an exciting place.

 

EL   New York in three words.

DR   Spectacle, spontaneity and transformation

EL   What is your favourite view?

DR   Central Park Sheep’s Meadow is pretty remarkable. It’s a wide open space in the middle of the city and that not only offers a wonderful peaceful gathering place, but it is also one of the few panoramic skyline views from within the city.

EL   Your favourite neighbourhood and why?

DR   My office overlooks Union Square, so I have grown to love and appreciate what has become one of the most vital areas of NY. With its fine restaurants, famous green market, popular park and boutique stores, publishing houses and progressive offices, Union Square has become an amazing cross-section of the city with all ages and walks of life. I’ve noticed that the three shallow arcs of steps that define the south side of the park is one of the most popular public gathering places downtown — between street vendors, opera singers, political rally-ers, sunbathing students, work-time lunchers, or people just watching life go by.

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Yotel
Scott Frances
 
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Yotel
Scott Frances
 

EL   Describe New York’s food culture – which local dishes or delicacies are a must-try?

DR   You can’t go wrong with any cheese from Murray’s cheese. Food trucks are a great.

EL   Describe your perfect night out in New York..

DR   I love coming home and unwinding with my family.

EL   What is your favourite festival or cultural event?

DR   Every weekend in the summer through fall, Smorgasburg transforms Williamsburg’s waterfront into an eclectic food festival. It’s a great place to sample a variety of the latest food trends.

EL   What aspect of New York’s cultural scene most stands out to you?

DR   Ever since I was a child I have been enamoured with the theatre, and New York’s Broadway scene has always been a huge influence for me. Through the years, New York’s cultural scene has constantly evolved, yet the theatre and Broadway have remained a constant presence throughout.

EL   How would you describe the evolution of New York’s architecture and urbanisation?

DR   The City is in constant flux. Neighborhoods are constantly transforming. Areas that were once decrepit are now burgeoning centers of development and growth.

EL   Your favourite building and why?

DR   Grand Central is one of the best examples of the value of historic places. When light cascades through the vast arched windows, you feel like you’re in the center of the universe.

 

EL   New York is a melting pot of different cultures.  How does this convergence give a special flavour to the city?

DR   The collision of diversity throughout the city is truly what makes New York magical. Not only does the influence of different cultures make New York one of the most interesting and unique places in the world, but it is the diversity of ideas and creativity that stem from these cultures that really define the flavour of the city.

EL   Which is your favourite food market?

DR   The Greenmarket in Union Square transforms an empty lot into a wonderland of local and fresh produce. It’s very refreshing to walk through the market and watch the season change on an object scale.

EL   What do you do to relax and unwind in New York?

DR   When I designed my loft in Tribeca, I created a rotating chair perched on my roof that provides a 360-degree view of downtown Manhattan. It is the perfect outlet for unwinding and relaxing – outdoor space is such an essential part of living.

EL   Your favourite city escape?

DR   My roof.

EL   When in New York, what can you not live without?

DR   A Citi Bike membership! Fun and efficient way to explore the city.

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Yotel
Nicolas Koenig
 
CITY GUIDE - NEW-YORK
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Maialino
 

BREAKFAST

Maialino

Great neighborhood spot for breakfast and lunch across from Gramercy Park. If it’s a nice day, I also enjoy sitting outside at Gramercy Terrace.

www.maialinonyc.com

 

LUNCH

Blue Water Grill

I always usually order here from lunch if I’m at the office.

www.bluewatergrillnyc.com

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Blue Water Grill
 
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The Library at The Public Theater
 

DINNER

The Library at The Public Theater

Perfect spot for an intimate, cozy dinner or cocktail.

 

CAFE

Billy’s Bakery

Not a café per say, but my kids and I love walking to Billy’s Bakery on the weekends for some cupcakes.

www.billysbakerynyc.com

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Billy’s Bakery
 
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Old King Cole Bar, St. Regis Hotel
 

BAR

Old King Cole Bar, St. Regis Hotel

The Old King Cole Bar is one of the best one-of-a-kind haunts of New York history.

www.kingcolebar.com

 

MUSEUM

MOMA

New York offers a number of great museums, but MoMA is definitely one of my favorites for its collection of pioneering art and design. I also can’t wait for the new Whitney to open.

www.moma.org

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MOMA
 
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Mondo Cane
 

BOUTIQUE

Mondo Cane

Unusual and quirky design selection of mid-century, European pieces

www.mondocane.com

 

BOOK STORE

Argosy Book Store

Arguably the best bookstore for rare and out-of-print books

www.argosybooks.com/shop/arg[...]

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Argosy Book Store
 
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Hudson River Flowers
 

FLOWER SHOP

Hudson River Flowers

The staff are always so helpful and it’s a nice short walk from my house

www.hudsonriverflowers.com

 

MARKET

Union Square Greenmarket

I love watching the seasons go by through the rotating selection of fresh and local produce.

www.grownyc.org/greenmarket/[...]

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Union Square Greenmarket
 
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Andaz
 

HOTEL

Andaz

One of my favorite aspects of Andaz Wall Street is the check-in experience. Instead of guests approaching a concierge desk, the “hosts” come to you with a laptop so you can check in en route to your room, while sitting in the lobby having a coffee, or at the bar.

www.starwoodhotels.com/whote[...]

 

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