Grand-Hotel Glamour Revived in New York I.M. Pei's Design for the New Four Seasons Hotel Recaptures Bygone Era

Article excerpt

THE 33-foot high marble columns in the lobby look so monumental that you may think you've stepped into a museum. In a way, you have.

New York's Four Seasons Hotel, located on one of midtown Manhattan's most fashionable shopping streets, is the Big Apple's newest and tallest hostelry. Built over four years at a cost of $360 million, the hotel is fast gaining a certain landmark status as the latest example of a disappearing breed of grand hotels. "I've been told that something like this happens in New York every 50 years, and I tend to believe it," says hotel manager Thomas Gurtner.

Curious New Yorkers are zipping in and out of the Four Seasons' revolving doors in such numbers that the hotel has assigned six employees just to give tours. The Toronto-based Four Seasons chain has 37 other hotels around the globe, including New York's Hotel Pierre, but the newest addition is considered the flagship.

Chief architect I.M. Pei, who designed the 52-story structure in association with Frank Williams, has said the aim was to produce a building of classic elegance and continue a tradition in which going to a hotel was an occasion.

The interior and exterior walls are made of honey-colored Magny limestone from France, the same kind used in Mr. Pei's addition to the Louvre in Paris. The grand foyer, topped by a translucent onyx ceiling, exudes a certain majesty that is strictly intentional.

"The architects wanted to create a grand arrival space . …