To the dismay of many New Yorkers, the Waldorf Astoria closed its doors in 2017 for a huge renovation project that will ultimately create larger hotel rooms and add a new set of luxury condos. After the plans were announced, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the hotel’s first three floors as an interior landmark, meaning the new owners will need to preserve the 1931 Art Deco spaces. But after a four-year hiatus (the hotel will reopen in 2021) and a completely new vibe, it’s not clear if those interiors will have the same glamorous, old-school New York vibe that they were once famous for. Luckily, photographers James and Karla Murray captured the Waldorf in all its glory before it closed its doors. Ahead, take a tour of the old Waldorf, from its iconic, two-ton lobby clock to the three-tiered grand ballroom.
Photo via Wikimedia
When the iconic Waldorf Astoria closed in 2017 for the massive renovation promised when Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group acquired it in 2014, the hotel’s future held jumbo condos and massive guest rooms. The fate of the Park Avenue landmark has been a topic of drama and discussion ever since, especially given the takeover of Anbang by the Chinese government after the incarceration of the company’s chairman, Wu Xiaohui, last year during a fraud investigation. The New York Post now reports that although contractor AECOM Tishman has signed a deal with Anbang and construction is underway for the promised 350 condos and 350 hotel rooms, the project’s completion date has been moved from 2020 to 2021.
As 6sqft recently reported, ownership of the iconic Waldorf Astoria was among the properties involved when the Chinese government temporarily took over the debt-ridden Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group, a firm known for snatching up prominent and expensive properties around the world. There has long been speculation about a condominium project in the works, and Bloomberg reports that the project is moving forward. Signs of change: Effects from the building’s guest suites have been carted off by Scranton, Pennsylvania-based architectural salvage purveyor Olde Good Things, who is already is selling pieces of the storied hotel on its website.
Photo via Wikimedia
The Chinese government has taken control over debt-ridden Anbang Insurance Group, a Beijing-based firm known for snatching up prominent properties around the world for billions of dollars. One of those high-profile properties includes New York City’s iconic Waldorf Astoria, which the group purchased for $1.95 billion in 2014. According to the New York Times, the government takeover comes after Abang violated regulations, although the exact violations committed are unclear so far. Anbang will be overseen for one year by a group that includes China’s central bank, the country’s securities and banking regulator, the regular of foreign exchanges and other government agencies.
Photo via Wiki Commons
In the coming weeks, the renovation of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel will finally begin–a three-year process to convert much of the building to luxury condos. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, who had owned the landmark since 1972, agreed in 2014 to sell the 1,413-room hotel to Beijing-based financial and insurance company Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion. Since then, the interior was landmarked, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was tapped to design the project, and the building closed to begin work. Now the New York Post reports that post reno, the Waldorf will only hold 350 hotel rooms–a number that’s “at the low end of recent estimates and much smaller than the number former Waldorf owner Hilton had expected,” according to the paper.
Proposed rendering of the Park Avenue foyer, via Skidmore, Owings & Merrill
On March 1st, the Waldorf Astoria closed its doors to the public so that its new owners, Chinese insurer Anbang (who just today backed out of an even larger project to redevelop the Kushner Companies’ 666 Fifth Avenue) can undertake a two- to three-year renovation to convert 1,413 hotel rooms into 840 renovated hotel rooms and 321 condos, as well as spiff up the public spaces. This last part was worrisome at first, but earlier this month, these iconic Art Deco interiors were designated an official city landmark, meaning Anbang will need to preserve them and receive approvals for any work from the LPC. Wasting no time, they’ve now released plans for both the interior and exterior renovations and announced that architectural firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) and renowned interior designer Pierre Yves Rochon (PYR) will “protect [the] beloved spaces and restore original features of the Waldorf not seen for decades.”
On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously to designate most of the famed Waldorf Astoria’s first three floors an official interior landmark. The decision came just a week after the iconic hotel closed for what’s expected to be a three-year renovation and condo conversion. But for those who missed their chance to get inside before the doors shut, Google Maps has released a virtual 3D tour of the Art Deco interiors, including the Park Avenue lobby with its bronze-and-mahogany clock tower, Peacock Alley restaurant, the grand ballroom and balconies, and Louis Rigal’s “Wheel of Life” mosaic made from 140,000 marble tiles (h/t Crain’s). You can even go inside the Guerlain Spa and some hotel rooms.
In news that will come as a surprise to no one, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted unanimously this morning to designate the interiors of the famed Waldorf Astoria a New York City landmark. According to Curbed, the decision was made within minutes without hesitation from any of the board members. The announcement also comes hot on the heels of the hotel’s closure just one week ago, as its new owners, Anbang Insurance Group, undertake what’s expected to be a three-year renovation and conversion that will bring forth 840 updated hotel rooms and 321 luxury condos.
On Wednesday, March 1st, the famed Waldorf Astoria Hotel will close its doors for three years as its new owners, Chinese insurer Anbang Insurance Group, kicks off a conversion that will turn 1,413 hotel rooms into 840 renovated hotel rooms and 321 luxury condos. While most New Yorkers have been scrambling to hit up one of the hotel’s many gilded bars for one last cocktail, others looking to celebrate the icon in a more substantial way now have an opportunity to lay claim to one (or several) of the hotel’s architectural and decorative wares. Indeed, currently up for grabs are eight mahogany panels of Art Deco etched glass, four solid bronze urns, carved glass panels, the original 1931 private entrance revolving door, and a large set of revolving doors that come complete with two side bronze doors—all on eBay.
Come March 1st the Waldorf Astoria will close its doors to the public in preparation for what’s likely to be a lengthy conversion, as the New York icon transforms from luxury hotel to a hybrid of opulent condos and hotel rooms. While we can all rest assured that the Waldorf’s stunning interiors will remain intact—from the historic ballrooms to exhibition space, dining rooms and banquet rooms—what will likely disappear for good (at least in their current form) are the lavish brunches held at Peacock Alley. As Metro NY reports, this Sunday, February 26th, will be your last opportunity to indulge in the hotel’s utterly decadent weekend offering.