The Ace Hotel New York set a new standard for hotel design and innovation. The principals of design firm Roman and Williams discuss their collaboration with the late hotelier.
Though many are mourning the untimely death of Ace Hotel chain founder Alex Calderwood last week at age 47, two interior designers are suffering his passing as a nearly familial loss.
The pair—Robin Standefer, 49, and Stephen Alesch, 48, principals of the New York City-based design firm Roman and Williams—collaborated with Calderwood to create the much buzzed about Ace Hotel New York that opened in 2009, crystallizing vintage-cozy design trends that were emerging on the west coast and in Brooklyn. Plaid-clad 20-somethings flocked to the Ace’s dark, pubby lobby and its wood-paneled restaurant, the Breslin, with its snout-to-tail menu. It was just the right level of egalitarian comfort and locavorism that a post-crash populace needed.
“We were like family,” Standefer said of the designers’ three-and-a-half year working relationship with Calderwood. “We found comfort together creatively and had a lot of common values—imperfection, experience, the story. Like a band, we played better together. Stephen and I are married, so we have a close companion to make things with. Alex was like that.”
The trio haunted east coast flea markets, sourcing knickknacks that would adorn the lobby and guest rooms. On a rainy day at the Brimfield, Massachusetts, antiques fair in 2007, they discovered the massive American flag that hangs above the lobby bar.
The chances that you not only are in a commercial plane crash, but also are the single person to survive are a virtual impossibility. Yet this is the reality for 14 people living today.
Behind the swelling, bruises, and swaddling of head bandages, George Lamson, Jr. grinned widely. “I feel…just great,” he told reporters who swarmed his hospital bedside, press conferences, and talk show appearances. It was 1985, and Lamson, just 17 at the time, had survived a flight from Reno to Minneapolis that killed all 70 other passengers, including his father. When the pilot announced the plane was going down, he drew his legs up in front of his face, kicked through the wall as it hit the ground, and was thrown across the fiery ruins into the highway. He thought, he said later, that he had died and gone to heaven.
A scene from the documentary "Sole Survivior." (Yellow Wing Productions)
Today, he is one of only 14 people who are the lone survivors of the commercial plane crashes they endured. It’s an unimaginable—and almost statistically impossible—prospect: that you, singularly, survived a horrific accident by some miraculous means, while everyone else was killed. In these one-in-a-million cases, the survivors tend to be young and nimble, but mostly it’s just pure chance. In a new documentary called Sole Survivor, which aired at the DOC NYC festival on Friday, four of those miraculous stories are told by director Ky Dickens. The stories made international headlines at the time of the crashes, but have since faded from the spotlight. In addition to Lamson, there’s 14-year-old Bahia Bakari who, in 2009, clung to floating debris in the Indian Ocean for nine hours before being saved; Cecelia Cichan, who was just four years old in 1987 when she survived a crash that killed her mother, father, and brother en route to Arizona; and Jim Polehinke, first officer of a bungled take-off in 2006 that left him paralyzed and wracked with survivor’s guilt. “I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy,” he says.
Now a father himself, Lamson is a wiser, more somber version of that 17-year-old, living not far from the crash site in Reno and working as a dealer at a casino. He’s on a mission to reach out and connect with the other 13 like him—to form a community for those who only have a handful of people in the world who can relate to their traumatizing experiences. He’s curious, he says, to find out how the others have healed, and wants to offer an understanding hand. So he began writing letters and emails. “I’m reaching out to say I am here for you,” he writes to young Bakari, who lives in Paris.
The influential hotelier was found dead on Thursday afternoon in his newest venture, London’s Ace Hotel.
There was no indication of anything untoward at the newest outpost of the Ace Hotel, in London, today. No casual visitor would have guessed that the group’s maverick founder, Alex Calderwood, was found dead in one of his artfully retrofitted bedrooms on Thursday afternoon. He was 47.
The music was the usual upbeat mix of dubstep reggae, bluegrass and vintage British punk, and a string quartet performed with commendable irony in the overpriced Hoi Polloi restaurant - where a small and unremarkable burger with chips would set a customer back £15 (about $24). The be-whiskered and expensively dressed 30-and-40-somethings who can afford the extravagant prices were clustered around their Apple laptops in the bar and lobby area, the central feature of which is a long, low communal table with library-style light shades running down its middle. The black and white photo booth machine had a steady stream of laughing customers. There was no palpable sense of doom hanging heavy in the wake of the chain’s visionary founder’s death.
Alex Calderwood, owner of the Ace Hotel, sit at the hotel lobby bar in New York on January 3, 2011. (Deidre Schoo/The New York Times, via Redux)
But behind the game faces, the staff had, however, clearly been rattled by the events of recent days, which came to a dramatic head when an ambulance, preceded by a paramedic on a bike, arrived at the hotel at 2:30pm on Thursday afternoon, shortly after the body of Calderwood was discovered.
What’s turned Los Angeles into a culinary boomtown? Chef Roy Choi and New Yorker staff writer Dana Goodyear know.
If you want to fall in love with Los Angeles, have a meal with Roy Choi and Dana Goodyear. That should do it.
Roy Choi, chef and owner of Chego restaurant and the Kogi Korean taco trucks in Los Angeles, on May 11, 2010. (Axel Koester/The New York Times via Redux)
On paper Choi and Goodyear have little in common. Choi was born in South Korea and raised in Southern California; poor in Koreatown, better off in Anaheim, prosperous in Coto de Caza. Goodyear comes from WASPier, wider ranging stock: Princeton, Cleveland, London, Bethesda, St. Louis, New York, and finally, a few years ago, the upscale bohemia of Venice Beach. She is a poet, teacher, and New Yorker staff writer, educated at St. Paul's and Yale. He went to Cal State Fullerton for awhile, then sold mutual funds, then became the chef behind the mobile Korean taco empire known as Kogi BBQ.
Both Choi and Goodyear have written new books about food. Choi’s L.A. Son is a hard-knock memoir salted with nostalgic recipes. On one page Choi is writing about the gangs he joined as a teenager, the week he spent on crack, or the year he lost to gambling; on the next page he’s telling you how to make something called Ketchup Fried Rice. Goodyear’s Anything That Moves, meanwhile, is a collection of urbane dispatches about the insect-eating, raw-milk-drinking, offal-exalting obsessives on the front lines of 21st-century American food culture. They’re rarely mentioned in the same sentence, and understandably so.
Not all art is easily placed in a museum; some pieces are intrinsically linked to the location in which they were created. A new book collects the best of these works in the Americas.
Site-specific art is some of the most exciting art on the planet. It’s not the art that’s generally in museums and galleries. More often you’ll find it in open fields, in libraries, in opera houses, in caves, on highways, in plazas, in sculpture parks, in state capitols, on the street, in the desert, in office buildings and even in hydroelectric plants. “Site-specific art.” It doesn’t sound good does it? It sounds formal and restricted, but at its best, it is immersive, moving, and very often overwhelming.
Five years in the making, Art & Place (published this month by Phaidon) includes some of the most outstanding examples of site-specific art in the Americas: from the markings of hunter-gatherers who stencilled the shape of their own hands onto cave walls some 9,000 years ago in a canyon in Patagonia, Argentina, to Anish Kapoor’s Cloud Gate that reflects the constantly changing city and sky in Chicago’s Millennium Square. The book’s geographical structure allows for an exciting sequence of works that vary in time, medium, and approach. Here, Neolithic monuments are juxtaposed with land art, jungle carvings with downtown murals, and public works with personal projects, such as the sculptures—and folly—of the wealthy eccentric Edward James, in the tropical rain forest a ten-hour drive from Mexico City.
There are sites that are familiar to everyone, like Easter Island with its enormous Moai figures standing over eight feet tall, but also far lesser known works, such as the totem poles of the Haida people on the Queen Charlotte Islands in British Columbia. Some are the creations of renowned artists, like Mark Rothko’s murals in the chapel commissioned by John and Dominique de Menil in Houston, or Nancy Holt’s Sun Tunnels that lie in the desert forty miles from the nearest town in Utah. Others express the genius of unknown artisans, such as the grisaille murals of the Monastery of San Nicolas de Tolentino in San Luis Potosí in Mexico, or of whole communities, like the caves painted in bright colors by the Chumash of California in a quest to communicate with the spiritual world.
What binds these works together is an overriding sense of place: the subject or meaning of all these works is closely intertwined with the location in which they are situated. And it is this that makes them some of the most adventurous, bold, and exciting to experience.
Harry was in London today for launch of Antarctic expedition
Trafalgar Square was chilly today, good preparation for Prince Harry's polar trek.
The young prince was at the central London square for the media launch of the expedition.
Ben A. Pruchnie
Taking to the stage he said, "Even when you've lost a leg or lost an arm, or whatever the illness may be, you can achieve pretty much anything if you put your mind to it…The cause is for one cause and one cause only and that is to raise awareness for all the wounded, sick and injured, whether it's in military life or whether it's in civilian life."
Ever windsurfed across a saltwater lake or visited a 400-year-old chapel—underground? Try it out in Poland, at an unbelievable mine-turned-subterranean playground outside Krakow.
More than 1,000 feet underground in Poland, seemingly impossible things are happening. Hot-air balloons have been launched. A bungee jumper has taken the plunge. A windsurfer has been propelled across still saltwater. A brass band has bellowed on its instruments.
The Wieliczka Salt Mine is one of the world's oldest operating salt mines, which has been in operation since prehistoric times. (Jan Morek/Getty)
Stretching nine levels beneath the earth, Poland’s Wieliczka Salt Mine is roomy enough to fit the Eiffel Tower and then some. For centuries, miners have been carving out spectacular chapels and sculptures of the country’s most beloved figures underground, not far from the medieval city of Krakow. And in the past half century, as salt mining slowed and then halted, and tourists began arriving, the cavernous chambers have been transformed into an incredible underground amusement park of grand halls, health spas, museum-worthy art, and record-setting spectacles.
The descent into the chilly salt mine caves is 800 steps down the shafts. But the winding venture is worth the trek. Hundreds of years of excavation has left seven gorgeous chambers carved into the salt rock throughout the floors. Today they host hundreds of guests at weddings, business meetings, concerts, fashion shows, and galas.
Paris wasn’t always the city of wide boulevards and elegant parks. A new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art displays Charles Marville’s photographs of the city in transition.
Sometimes it takes a while to recognize an important artist. In the case of French photographer Charles Marville, the wait has lasted two-hundred years.
Percement de l'avenue de l'Opéra (Construction of the avenue de l'Opéra), December 1876
On the bicentennial of his birth, Marville and his work are featured in a fantastic new exhibition at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., titled “Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris.”
Over a hundred years before sections of news sites and Flickr pages devoted to “ruin porn” sprang up, Charles Marville set out to document a Paris that had been subjected to an incredible amount of destruction, and would undergo its most dramatic changes yet under city-planner Baron Haussmann.
It’s got great restaurants and world-class museums—as well as soaring rents, crowded buses, and nonstop construction work. What’s a lifelong Londoner to do?
It’s more than two centuries ago that Samuel Johnson made the observation: “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life…” (He goes on, “for there is in London all that life can afford.”)
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose? Unfortunately, we don’t get a say in where we’re born or where we grow up. Geographical decisions begin when you take a job, or apply for university, although they still depend on external, practical factors, such as where we can afford to rent or buy property, where our family or partner lives, where we can find work.
I was born in London and have lived here most of my life. Wherever I end my days, it’ll always be in my marrow. But it has changed a lot in recent years: battalions of buses, lorries, taxis and cars clog the centre of town, contributing to dire levels of pollution, and general malaise. On top of the near-permanent gridlock, much of London is being excavated for Crossrail, a mega new train network linking the capital with surrounding regions to the east and west. Costing billions of pounds, Crossrail is Europe's largest infrastructure construction project, with 73 miles of railway—26 miles of this in underground tunnels. Massive drilling machines are at work beneath our pavements, and whole swathes of the city centre will continue to be disrupted until the completion date of 2018.
I sometimes wonder what my great-aunt Virginia Woolf would have made of all this. One of Virginia’s greatest pleasures in London was "street-haunting"; it provided inspiration for her writing and solace when she felt depressed. She thrived on the energy of London, and suffered terribly during her nervous breakdowns, when she was moved out of her town for her health. In a low moment in 1934, she wrote: "I’m so ugly. So old. Well, don’t think about it, and walk all over London; and see people and imagine their lives." Now, as I walk the same streets Virginia walked, the sights are cranes and bulldozers, the sounds are pneumatic drills and emergency sirens. (For several nights now, a police helicopter has been hovering in the skies around my area; it’s a menacing noise.)
From a submerged Bar Refaeli to a Mediterranean idyll, a voyeur’s look at the stars’ sun-soaked scenes.
Wildlife, storytelling, dung, and other things I encountered on my Zambian safari.
The bouillabaisse is just as tasty, but Europe’s 2013 Capital of Culture now has a lot more to offer. Anna Watson Carl reports.
More than a natural wonder, Cappadocia's formations have been a safe haven to many. Nina Strochlic reports.
Tony Wheeler, co-founder of Lonely Planet Publications, remembers the fun early days of travel guide writing, but says they're not over yet.
Miley Cyrus’ fav new haunt is Beacher’s Madhouse, the craziest club in Los Angeles.
Take the vacation of a lifetime—in beautiful North Korea? That’s Uri Tours’ pitch. Lloyd Grove reports.
In ‘Mapping Manhattan,’ explore the city via 75 New Yorkers’ personal geographies. By Allison McNearney.