THE NEW YORK HILTON HOTEL
1335 AVENUE OF THE AMERICAS
(bet. 53rd & 54th Streets)
Developer: Hilton Hotels
Architect: William B. Tabler
By Carter B. Horsley
Completed the year before the opening of the
1964-1965 New York World's Fair, the New York Hilton brought the
city into the era of modern conventions and corporate travel.
The 2,200-room hotel also helped legitimize
this section of the Avenue of the Americas, and indeed much of
west Midtown, as Rockefeller Center had not yet begun its major
expansion across the avenue whose only important major new building
in years had been the Time-Life Building three blocks to the south
and completed in 1959.
The hotel is notable architecturally for its
massing and its color.
The low-rise base, with recessed driveway entrance,
contains the hotel's extensive public meeting rooms and ballrooms,
and the slab tower contains the guest rooms.
While the base is not at all attractive, the
tower slab is dazzling, both in its ridged curtain wall that gives
its great expanse a rippling quality of vibrant verticality and
texture and in its deep rich blue glass facade. The facade's simply
but large bay windows enhance the guest's vistas but also make
the exterior multi-faceted.
The center portion of the tower's east wall
is a concrete wall similar to the base. A modernization in the
mid-1990s improved and enlivened the avenue entrance by lavish
application of stainless steel to the ceilings and columns.
The hotel also expanded into the handsome new
office building immediately to its west that was developed in
conjunction with Edward Minksoff. That very handsome midblock
building, designed by Kohn Pederson Fox and completed in 1989,
has an address of 1325 Avenue of the Americas (see The
City Review article) and provided important expansion space
for this major hotel. It also has a large through-block arcade
on which an attractive restaurant, Remi, faces. Because the Hilton
is a narrow slab tower, many of the office building's offices
have unusual views.
The hotel's base, with its vertical "blinds"
treatment, should be simply reclad in reflective black glass with
the Hilton logo in the dark blue of the tower slab, the better
to defer to the CBS "Black Rock" a block south across
the avenue, to set off its really superb tower, whose top floor
contains very impressive duplex "Presidential" suites,
and to provide a more elegant backdrop to Jim Dine's huge plaza
sculptures across 53rd Street.
At the end of the 20th Century, however, a
redesign of the hotel's base facade was rather uninspired and
a bit garish although the redesign of the lobby spaces was not