For this edition of Shop Talk, the interview series where friends and collaborators exchange ideas, discoveries, and sources of inspiration, RBW and Dieter Cartwright, Founding Partner of the Brooklyn-based firm Dutch East Design, discuss the transformation of a Marcel Breuer-designed office building into an inviting, contemporary hotel.
As a rectangular behemoth made of glass and concrete, the newly opened Hotel Marcel in New Haven, Connecticut, is a prime example of the much-loved but also much-maligned Brutalist style. Completed in 1970, it was originally the headquarters of the Armstrong Rubber Co before switching hands to Italian tire company Pirelli in 1988, then falling abandoned in 1999. When architect and developer Becker + Becker began the historic rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the building in 2020, they tasked Dutch East Design with bringing warmth into Breuer’s austere, Brutalist interiors while preserving his architectural legacy. Below, Dutch East Design's Dieter Cartwright reflects on their approach, as well as another major achievement: making Marcel the country’s first Passive House- and Net Zero- certified hotel.