First buy a Dallas landmark. Then hire Adam Tihany. And you've got yourself a hotel called the Joule
Edie Cohen -- Interior Design, 1/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
He's worked on six continents, in more cities than he can tally, and his restaurants and hotels regularly scale five-star heights. But Adam Tihany never had a project in the Big D. At least not until he was tapped by billionaire oilman Timothy Headington to transform the Dallas National Bank, a 1929 neo-Gothic tower in limestone and granite.
Tihany says he knew instantly that "a total gut job" was in order for all 20 floors, mostly recently used as office space. He knew, too, that profitability would require more space. Good thing Headington had purchased an adjacent parcel, enabling him, Tihany Design, and Architexas to construct a 10-story annex.
Now Tihany had ample area for a 129 key count, including 21 suites and a 5,000-square-foot penthouse encompassing the entire top floor of the 1929 building. He'd also have room for a subterranean nightclub called PM, short for precious metal in addition to the after-dark connotations, and a contemporary steak house named for chef Charlie Palmer, a former client whom Tihany brought back to the table. With the addition of a ballroom, two meeting rooms, and a fitness center, the project was clearly going to be worthy of inclusion in the Luxury Collection, part of Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide. And that's before you even mention the pool.
In an impressive feat of engineering, the swimming pool on the roof of the annex cantilevers a dizzying 8 feet over Main Street. A clear acrylic front lets swimmers look out at the city during the day. After nightfall, a light show emanates from fiber optics embedded in the concrete bottom and sides.
The home of such a stunning setup clearly required an attention-grabbing name—no Luxury Collection–style Palace, Castle, or Hacienda would do. Instead, the hotel name grew out of the design, which in turn derived from the location. "With every project, I try to tell a story that's inherently local, truly site-specific," Tihany says. "It's my antiglobalization approach." For Dallas, brainstorming sessions led to the word oil, leading to thoughts of power in general. A joule is a unit of electrical energy, hence the Joule.
Meant to recall oil derricks, stained-oak columns march down opposite sides of the hotel lobby. The rear of the space is anchored by a pair of enormous gear wheels, the teeth of the one standing vertically engaging those of the one installed horizontally right below the ceiling. Both wheels are fiberglass painted a silvery color, a dead ringer for steel. (Respite from all that strenuous activity can be found on clubby sofas and armchairs upholstered in dark brown mohair and leather.)
In the restaurant, Charlie Palmer at the Joule, a similar rationale governed decorative references. A huge round grille in polished stainless steel punctures the ceiling above the communal table, referencing wind power, while the blades of six turbines rotate overhead. Bram Tihany, a filmmaker-photographer—and, yes, the architect's son—reinforced the "energy" idea with six photographs, elaborately staged to reinvent wind-themed movies, The Wizard of Oz and Mary Poppins among them.
The younger Tihany took a Dallas-centric route for photography throughout the hotel, capturing the urban scene via black-and-white images in guest corridors, rooms, and suites. "What's special about this project is that it feels bespoke," his father says. Then he adds, "Achieving true luxury hospitality requires understanding a customer who knows quality."
That means customization, for example in the suites. Tihany outfitted the three handsome 1,000-square-foot duplexes, on the original building's 18th and 19th floors, with chairs upholstered in butterscotch leather and colorfully striped wool rugs. In the 5,000-square-foot penthouse, he tiled the floor of the private elevator lobby in a fanciful pattern and hung a row of pendant fixtures with gigantic poppy-red drum shades. A billiard table topped in a similarly red felt stands in the living area, amid stained-oak millwork and a showroom's worth of seating covered in mohair, velvet, and leather.
Tihany paid equal attention to the standard rooms, a generous 400 square feet in both buildings. Off-white leather wraps the headboards, which stand out against the purple-bronze wall covering. Enclosing bathrooms and even closets in glass cleverly increases the sense of spaciousness. At night, they glow like light boxes, with floor-length curtains providing privacy.
For a touch of the sultry, guests make their way to PM. The seduction begins in the hotel's main lobby, where a shimmering chocolate-colored wall beckons to the club's stairway entrance. Downstairs, nightlifers bask in the flattering amber glow cast by curved resin wall panels backlit by LEDs. From the ceiling hang strands of clear glass bubbles. Tufted crimson velvet covers a bench overflowing with silky throw pillows and surrounded by sexy little drink tables lacquered rum-raisin. Here, it appears Tihany has unquestionably left energetic Dallas behind for a more languorous port of call. It's the Big M: Marrakech.
Kelly - 2009-05-04 17:33:00 EDT
My husband and I stayed in this hotel for our Anniversary while visiting
Texas. It is a beautiful hotel. We loved it!
Texas. It is a beautiful hotel. We loved it!