Element Hotel

How to Turn a Flat Facade into a 3D Visual Illusion

Text by Matthias Hollwich

Status  BUILT 2014

Location  HARRISON, NJ

Size  100,000 SF

Client  IRONSTATE HOLDINGS, THE PEGASUS GROUP

Scope  SD-CD

Architect of Record  MINNO & WASKOW

Team  MATTHIAS HOLLWICH, AIA MARC KUSHNER, AIA ROBERT MAY, EDWIN LIU, ADAM HOSTETLER

This building is a joyful experiment with the Baroque painting technique of trompe l’oeil. Element is a fresh and innovative hotel brand that needed a facade to match—but the straightforward massing, layout, materials and budget for the building were non-negotiable. We turned to paint for the answer.

The perfectly rectangular building is disrupted by a few cantilevering window units. The rest of the exterior is animated by painted shadows designed to trick the eye into seeing depth. Once a day the painted shadows line up with the natural shadows, but most of the time the curious effect turns heads as a memorable icon for Harrison.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Element Hotel was designed during Matthias Hollwich’s partnership at Hollwich Kushner Architecture DPC, where Matthias acted as principal and lead designer.