Architect Transforms Brooklyn Heights Co-op Lobby From Grim to Glam

Photo by David Joseph

This isn’t a transformation you see every day. When the St. George Tower — once a wing of one of the largest and most luxurious hotels in the entire city — was converted into co-ops in 1984, the old hotel’s service entrance became the new co-op’s lobby. For decades, the space remained sponge-painted beige and depressingly drab.

But just last year, a renovation designed by Katz Architecture transformed the worn and ill-lit entrance into a clean, lavish space with details harkening back to the building’s Art Deco past.

Brooklyn History -- Luxury Apartment Hotels

Hotel Saint George, 1912 postcard

The 30-story tower was designed by notable architect Emory Roth in the late 1920s as the final expansion of the grand St. George Hotel in Brooklyn Heights. But as the hotel diminished in popularity, it was broken up into separate spaces and sold off.

The co-op that took over the St. George Tower wasn’t attached the hotel’s main grand entrances on Clark or Henry streets — so they made do with the former service entrance at 111 Hicks Street. The anonymous lobby space was divided into three levels: an entrance and concierge desk, a lower service area, and an upper mailroom and elevator bank accessed up a flight of stairs.

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

St. George Tower lobby before the renovation. Photo by John Bartlestone

From the look of the “before” pictures, any change would have been better than the existing lobby design. But Katz set out to evoke the glamor of the Tower’s design roots, choosing “shimmery” materials and dark wood to create contrast and visual drama.

“The original Egyptian Art Deco interiors of the Hotel St. George were opulent and playful at the same time. Playing off of this, we wanted the space to feel both dramatic and inviting,” David Katz, Principal of Katz Architecture told Brownstoner.

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

Photo by David Joseph

Katz also raised the ceiling of the space and moved the concierge desk, creating a more expansive feel and reorienting the flow of the room. The worn quarry tile floor was replaced with terrazzo. An aluminum-leaf and black plaster wall conceal the ramp down to the service area.

“We wanted to incorporate craftsmanship into the details as much as possible,” Katz told Brownstoner. “Like with the hand-applied aluminum leaf panels and the custom designed railing.”

In total, the renovation took roughly nine months and cost $1 million.

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

Photo by David Joseph

The new concierge desk is made of dark rich wood and white marble. The faceted wall behind it conceals the ramp that leads to the service area downstairs. Notice how the geometric shapes of the light fixtures and metal railings create an Art Deco feel that’s contemporary, not kitsch.

“Our favorite detail is the incorporation of nickel silver into the reveals and corners of the fumed oak and black venetian plaster panels,” Katz told us. “It doesn’t scream out at you but provides just enough of a glint to give the place some subtle 1930s pizazz.”

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

St. George Tower lobby before the renovation. Photo by John Bartlestone

Katz Architecture is a residential design and consulting firm that’s made a specialty of shepherding co-op and condo boards through the renovation process.

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

Photo by David Joseph

Upstairs, the mail room and elevator area have softer tones and textures, with a gray carpet and light curtains.

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

Photo by David Joseph

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

Photo by David Joseph

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

Photo by David Joseph

Brooklyn Renovation St George Hotel Tower Lobby

Photo by David Joseph

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