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Using Natural Stone to Create Old Hollywood Glamour in a New Beverly Hills Hotel

by | Apr 30, 2020 |

An earlier version of this article appeared in Building Stone Magazine.

Located at the crossroads of Wilshire and Santa Monica Boulevard, the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is one of the tallest buildings in the city. The hotel, which boasts a Streamline Moderne design, is the brand’s first new build on the West Coast and its second hotel in California.

“The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is an urban oasis that combines modern luxury with timeless design. This building welcomes visitors to Beverly Hills in a completely new way,” said Pierre-Yves Rochon, founder and global design director at Pierre-Yves Rochon (PYR) in Paris and Chicago. “The exterior design honors the Golden Age of Hollywood and the architectural history of Los Angeles. Its form is harmonious with its surroundings, but it is also very visible and striking. It reminds us of the 1930s curved buildings in Los Angeles. The Streamline Moderne design is sleek, clad in limestone, and transitions well to the interiors. The volumes, curved edges, and Art Deco-inspired furniture pieces continue to create the hotel’s identity.”

The exterior architecture design of the 207,641-square-foot property was led by PYR in collaboration with architectural firms Perkins and Will and Gensler. A collaborative effort from start to finish, the $200 million undertaking spared no expense, as evidenced by its impressive Portuguese limestone-clad exterior and the interior spaces dressed in marble, granite, travertine, and onyx.

“The interior design challenge at the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills was to create a world-class design unlike any other hotel in L.A.,” Rochon said. “It needed to appeal to both international travelers and locals. We created this environment by celebrating large volumes, elegance, and artisanship, which can be appreciated by all. It also has a uniquely Southern California feel—it is light, open, airy, and has an effortless and comfortable style. It has ‘Old Hollywood’ glamour.”

“The sense of cinematic glamour begins with the dramatic arrival to the porte-cochère with a sweeping bronze canopy,” the designer explained. “Guests are welcomed through bronze doors adorned with Lalique crystal pulls. A soaring entry lobby is framed by two tall bronze zodiac screens and anchored by a monumental bronze chandelier. Intimate adjacent alcoves allow for a private check-in and concierge experience, while a floor-to-ceiling glossy onyx fireplace warms the lounge just beyond. The sophistication of the public areas is enhanced by the refined quality of craftsmanship in the FF&E [furniture, fixtures and equipment] program, including a carefully curated collection of art works, Lalique gold leaf backed crystal panels, hand-selected Italian marbles and custom furnishings from around the world.”

Natural Stone Adds Glamour and Intrigue

Photo courtesy of PICCO Engineering.

One of the most striking features of the hotel can be seen in the two-story lobby, where a 17-foot   onyx fireplace sets the perfect backdrop for a massive, custom-designed bronze and crystal chandelier. Across the lobby in the main waiting area a trio of marbles was used to create a clean, contemporary floor design. A base of Calacatta Oro marble is accented by thin bronze inserts, creating a repetitive rectangular design throughout the space. The Calacatta Oro marble frames an inner design composed of Crema Marfil and Amarelo Negrais marble, which are bordered by thin strips of Absolute Black granite.

The hotel provides an intimate hospitality experience, with only 18 rooms on each floor—119 deluxe rooms and 51 suites. “The atmosphere is exciting, vibrant, and full of life. We created a quiet backdrop of creams and beiges accented by cool celadons and golden caramels, and sleek black lacquer finishes. This palette also continues into the standard guestrooms, which creates a cohesive guest experience,” Rochon said.

The guestrooms celebrate a classic California style, with floor-to-ceiling windows that open onto oversized private balconies. Each type of room promotes a different color scheme, from the standard rooms to the presidential suite. The king-sized rooms embrace a blue theme, with patterned rugs and complementary accents, while the queen-sized rooms take on a gold theme. Suites are distinguished by chocolate brown and cream outfitting. All bathrooms are clad in marble, waterjet-cut into geometric patterns for the floors and walls. 12×24 inch pieces of Bianco Dolomiti marble were installed on the walls of the bathrooms and showers, separated by 1 1/2 inch vertical bands of Amarelo Negrais marble. The floors in the king- and queen-sized rooms feature an intricate stone medallion, with intermixed squares of Bianco Dolomiti and Crema Marfil marble, framed by 1 1/2 inch strips of Amarelo Negrais marble. In the suites, Bianco Dolomiti, Crema Marfil, and Amarelo Negrais are used to create a unique flower-like pattern on the floor. Crema Marfil was used for the tub surrounds to provide a cohesive look.

In the villas, Calacatta Oro marble was used on the floors. These rooms were designed using hints of celadon, a pale shade of green, with white and cream accents. The bathrooms, which combine all color shades through the use of stone and tile, also feature geometric-inspired floor medallions. The walls share the same stone design as the queen- and king-sized rooms, with 12- x 24 inch pieces of Calacatta Oro in place of Bianco Dolomiti marble, while the floors showcase triangular and circular pieces of waterjet-cut Noir St. Laurent and Crema Marfil marble that is framed by the 1 1/2 inch bands of Amarelo Negrais marble. In the shower, Calcacatta Oro was used for the shower bench and Crema Marfil graces the floors, along with square pieces of Noir St. Laurent marble framed by strips of Amarelo Negrais marble.

The 3,215-square-foot presidential suite, which includes a 1,459-square-foot terrace, combines shades of gold and cream with Noir St. Laurent marble floors to create something regal and one-of-a-kind. The Noir St. Laurent is featured throughout the entire suite’s floors and was carried into the bathroom, where it was used alongside thin bands of Amarelo Negrais marble to create a rectangular-inspired design. Large-format pieces of the same white onyx used for the lobby fireplace were also applied on these walls and the tub surround for an upscale look and feel. The presidential suite’s bathroom features floor to ceiling windows that offer dramatic views of the Hollywood Hills.

An Intricate Installation

A talented team of professionals was enlisted to fabricate and install the hotel’s intricate stone bathroom features. The polished 1 1/2 inch bands of Amarelo Negrais marble required a keen eye to ensure design perfection.

“This detail created a 180-degree continuum that wrapped the bathroom in a warm yellow hue,” said Solomon Aryeh, owner of SMG Stone Company, Inc. “This intricate detail that was achieved in the fabrication process was an important design element that lent the bathroom an elevated experience. Every one of the wall bands was installed to line up with one another horizontally and vertically, with some walls containing up to seven bands that faded into the door surround. This included bands lining up directly with the soap niche and a horizontal line detail on the light fixtures.”

Because of the client’s high standards, Aryeh and his team had to maintain tight tolerances to ensure design accuracy. “To achieve the lining up of the joints in the bathroom, the framing of the room had to be exact with tolerances no more than 1/8 inch,” he explained. “Our task was to work hand-in-hand with the framer to maintain the design integrity requiring walls to be plumb and installed in perfect square. Stone tiles were installed in a thinset system that required the mortar bed to be no more than 3/16 inch thick, as there was no room to build up the tiles or room for adjustments. A thicker mortar bed would off-set the joints from one end of the bathroom to the other, completely compromising the design.”

With several mock-ups completed during the design process and hundreds of dry lays assembled onsite prior to the install, the designers and installers successfully worked together for about four years to construct the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills.

Since its completion, the hotel has received numerous national and international accolades, including a Natural Stone Institute Pinnacle Award in the Commericial Interior category.

“The reaction has been very positive from the owner, Hilton, and the City of Beverly Hills,” Rochon said. “The building has greatly elevated the character of the site. It complements its adjacent sister hotel, the Beverly Hilton.  It is true to the city’s heritage of Hollywood glamour.”