Dezeen Magazine

Sister City hotel distils hospitality "down to the essential beautiful parts"

In the first of two videos about Atelier Ace produced by Dezeen for the AHEAD Awards, Kelly Sawdon explains how the brand's Sister City hotel offers travelers a minimal refuge from the bustle of New York.

Sister City is a hotel in the Lower East Side of Manhattan designed by Atelier Ace, the Ace Hotel's in-house creative team.

Sister City hotel by Atelier Ace

The hotel was nominated in the Hotel Conversion category at this year's AHEAD Americas hospitality awards, which were broadcast in a video ceremony as part of Dezeen's Virtual Design Festival after the physical event was cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Amongst the other nominees was Maison De La Luz, a luxury guesthouse in New Orleans also designed by Atelier Ace.

Sister City hotel by Atelier Ace

Sister City acts as a quiet, minimal counterpoint to the portfolio of hotels under the Ace Hotel name, which are known for their rock-and-roll opulence and hip nightlife areas.

The project is a conversion of a 10-storey brickwork building, which Atelier Ace topped with an additional four floors that include a rooftop bar.

Sister City hotel by Atelier Ace

In a video interview with Dezeen filmed using video conferencing app Zoom, Sawdon stated that the hotel was devised to offer guests peace when they step in from the streets of Manhattan.

"The overall vision for the project was to really look at how we can do something in a minimalist, refined way," she said.

"It's restorative for the guests when they're coming in from the hustle and bustle of the city."

Sister City hotel by Atelier Ace

Sister City's interiors were designed with calm in mind, making use of warm wood fittings and furniture throughout.

"It was all based around how can we minimise the noise and the clutter and really just distil it down to the essential beautiful parts," said Sawdon.

This quiet approach is apparent in the lobby, which features an AI-powered ambient soundtrack developed by electronic musician Julianna Barwick.

"We used a lot of light and shadows," said Sawdon. "There's a lot of wood, a lot of natural materials, terrazzo stone. We used vintage furniture and plants to create a peaceful, serene sort of space."

Sister City hotel by Atelier Ace

Each of the compact guest rooms features a cherry wood bed frame, a wooden valet that folds up and down when needed, terrazzo sinks, striped bedsheets and Noguchi lanterns, as well as a Bang & Olufsen speaker attached to the Headspace app for guests to meditate.

"The rooms have really taken a focus on what's functional," Sawdon said. "They're refined and thought through but minimalist in a warm and inviting way."

Sister City hotel by Atelier Ace

According to Sawdon, Sister City's departure from the approach to previous Ace Hotels is an outcome of Atelier Ace's attitude towards innovation.

"At Atelier Ace, we really focus on remaining curious and continuing to expose ourselves to new ideas and new schools of thought and I think as a company, we're going to continue pushing ourselves and evolving."

This video was produced by Dezeen for AHEAD. Photography is courtesy of Atelier Ace.