With a trademark curiosity and a flair for the dramatic and the innovative, David Rockwell designs spaces that are emotionally moving and flush with serenity and enchantment. As founder and lead of the Rockwell Group since 1984, this riveting architect and designer has brought a characteristic panache to restaurants, hotels, museum exhibitions, airport terminals, hospitals, and even Broadway sets for 40 years, inspired by a childhood brightened by theater on the East Coast of the United States, where his mother worked as a dancer and choreographer, and the colorful, busy streets of Guadalajara, Mexico, where he lived since the age of 12. Known for uniting the public with architecture designed to relate to the human experience, Rockwell often collaborates with the unexpected, and brings his encounters with the stage and the luminous spectacle of the city to designs that are further informed by music, art, fabric, and food, relishing in the diversity of the world around him and harmonizing spaces where all can come together for enlightened communion and delightful repose.
The unmatched creativity and technical brilliance of David Rockwell and his team was made manifest in his work for the Edition hotel in New York city, whose home in the landmark Metropolitan Life Tower, also known as Clock Tower, gave his work a historic and classic landscape on which to impose clean lines and warm, welcoming details. In collaboration with Ian Schrager and in partnership with the Marriot International, Rockwell brought to life the tower’s original character and transformed it into a haven of luxury with timeless and customized elements reminiscent of a classic Manhattan apartment with large rooms, ornate paneling, and beautiful molding in the lobby, restaurant, bar, and guest rooms. As Schrager notes, everything is new, yet suggestive of what might have been; custom coffee tables and chairs recall designs from the 1920s while embracing a decidedly modern feel, and jewel tones in the public areas and inviting, robust materials in the guest rooms like walnut for the headboards bring a sense of indulgence of times past without feeling overly sensational. Perhaps most striking, and certainly one of Rockwell’s favorite, is the feature staircase, winding and wrapped in a histrionic swoop of plaster that makes ascending or descending into a room an emotional and dramatic event. Contemporary artwork, lush velvet seating, and dramatic lighting in the restaurant means that meeting over a meal to converse and share stories takes on a vibrant, congenial feel, while neutral tones and contoured ceilings designed to complement the building’s original vaulting in the guest rooms encourage a relaxed tranquility that make a stay at the Edition a rejuvenating, harmonizing affair, bringing a pioneering vision and exclusive design to one of the city’s foremost heritage buildings.
What began as a modest, 6-person design firm has now grown to over a 300-person, award-winning, cross-disciplinary architecture and design practice based in New York city, with satellite offices in Madrid and Los Angeles. With each new project at the Rockwell Group, a unique narrative is written, one that addresses contemporary technologies but speaks to the finely wrought crafts of the past, executed with an artistic edge and delicate sensitivity to color and form. With a number of prestigious recognitions, from the AIANY President’s Award and the National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt Design Museum to two Emmys and a Tony, David Rockwell has brought a fascinating cleanliness and dynamic visual cohesion to immersive environments across the globe, replete with inimitable imagination, technological prowess, and a profound civic-mindedness, at once dazzling and ingenious.