Ink48 is the first upscale hotel located Hell’s Kitchen
Once a large printing factory in Midtown Manhattan’s West Side, the boutique hotel Ink48 now sits where 11th Avenue meets 48th Street. Part of the luxury Kimpton Hotels brand, Ink48 boasts a restaurant and rooftop bar developed by restaurateur Adam Block. The feat of transforming the warehouse space into a chic urban retreat was handled by the renowned New York design team of Rockwell Group with the help of fellow New Yorkers Focus Lighting for the architectural lighting.
Architect Carlos Zapata created a unique assembly of glass and metal to perch on the existing roof of the original building to accommodate a series of rooftop terraces, presidential suites, and the bar with a view unlike any other in the city. The architectural lighting design for Ink48 draws on the industrial nature of the site and complements the bold patterns and textures found throughout the hotel. Subtle lighting details and selective highlighting accentuates the juxtaposition of the original raw materials with modern design elements.
Although it is close to both the Javits Convention Center and Times Square, the Hell’s Kitchen section is not necessarily the first place tourists may think of when searching for accommodations in Manhattan. Loosely defined as the district west of 8th Avenue between 34th and 59th Streets, Hell’s Kitchen has a history as colorful as its name. The most common version traces the moniker to two policemen watching a small riot on West 39th Street near 10th Avenue in the late 1880s — a tough neighborhood where poverty and close quarters bred ill will between neighbors. According to legend, the rookie cop said to his boss, “This place is Hell itself,” to which the veteran cop replied, “Hell’s a mild climate, this is Hell’s kitchen.”
Over the years, the neighborhood has become decidedly desirable and upscale. Ink48’s presence underscores the area’s new vibe. To capture the pulse, personality, and distinctive energy of the city, award-winning designer David Rockwell of the Rockwell Group chose three quintessential New York spaces for inspiration.
The lobby is a luxurious interpretation of a pocket park — the small, sometimes hidden, and unexpected spaces that animate New York City’s streets. Upon entering Ink48 hotel, guests can’t help but notice the 16’-high bronzed portal of glass, stone, and leather.
Secondly, the Rockwell Group was inspired by the classic and ubiquitous New York loft for the guest room design as a way to showcase the dramatic height and views the hotel offers, with ceilings ranging from 11 to 15 feet high. Each contemporary room is stylishly appointed in whites, ruby reds, and chocolate browns with stone tiled bathrooms, oversized showers, and large-scale abstract artwork. Guests also have the option of indulging in treatments from the hotel’s full-service spa in the privacy of their own rooms.
The third element in Rockwell and Zapata’s urban concept was to create rooftop terraces for the lounge and restaurant on the 16th floor. The 2,000-sq.- ft. glass-enclosed bar is designed with doors that can open in warmer weather. In addition to outdoor seating, there is a jetted spa tub. The 17th floor is comprised of six guest rooms including a presidential suite connected by stairs to a sun deck with unparalleled city views.
Once the design was established, it was time to bring in Paul Gregory, principal designer of Focus Lighting, and his crew: lighting designer Christine Hope, assistant lighting designer Catherine Starmer, and project managers Melody Rosser and Heath Hurwitz.
The team – which employed io Linear LED, RSA adjustable accent downlights, and RSA multi-head COMBOLIGHTS for the project – received an Award of Recognition in the 34th Annual SOURCE Awards bestowed by Cooper Lighting.
The illuminated glass wall behind the reception desk creates a memorable first impression. Behind the glass, halogen lamps within a white cavity create a dimmable glow that is adjustable for day and night. The team used RSA 50-watt AR111 adjustable accent fixtures to highlight the rough, natural-edged timber desk and bring out the luster of the material.
To set the mood immediately as guests enter, the lobby area strikes a balance of sleek modern design within an industrial framework. To capture the nature of the building, the original concrete columns surround the lobby and are gently uplit by low-voltage halogen lighting.
Adjacent to the reception lobby is a small lounge that provides a quiet refuge for visitors. This softly lit space relies on subtle halogen accent lighting from recessed fixtures – in addition to floor and table lamps – to create a warm ambiance for relaxing over a glass of wine or catching up with friends.
Part of what makes the lobby living room look so inviting is the use of RSA MR16 adjustable multi-head accent fixtures that highlight the crushed velour furniture pieces in deep colors. The stacked stone walls are grazed from halogen PAR lamps in ceiling pockets, providing a contrast of texture and color.
The unique interior cabanas along the lobby façade give guests yet another cozy spot to see and be seen. Halogen spotlights accent the rich materials and combine with custom-designed sparkling glass chandeliers made by Unlight based on a collaborative design from Rockwell Group and Focus Lighting to create a luxurious environment. In a humorous touch, button stations engraved with saucy suggestions illuminate an indicator light requesting service in the cabana.
In addition to guest lodging, Ink48 is also a desirable venue for corporate meetings. To bring a more upscale touch to a commercial purpose room, Focus Lighting uplit the platinum leaf ceiling with neon to create an overall glow. RSA MR16 adjustable multi-head accent fixtures are strategically placed to create flexibility depending on the variety of uses within the space.
Every Kimpton Hotel is designed to tell a distinct story – some are about wine, literature, wellbeing, and theater. The story of Ink48 is “Make Your Mark.” In addition to the building’s former life as a printing plant, the hotel brand explains the name this way: according to a Chinese proverb, “The palest ink is better than the sharpest memory.” More than simple pigment, ink makes a statement an indelible impression.
Thanks to the collaborative design effort, Ink48 offers a gorgeous environment with panoramic views of the Hudson River plus amenities and services to inspire and encourage each guest to “Make Your Mark.”