Is This America’s Most Sustainable Hotel?

Named for the modernist architect who designed the original structure, Hotel Marcel New Haven stands out for its climate-first ethos.

The exterior of Hotel Marcel New Haven. (All photos courtesy of the property)

A long-abandoned brutalist landmark in Connecticut has received a new lease on life as the first net-zero hotel in the United States. Taking over the Pirelli Tire Building by legendary Bauhaus-trained architect Marcel Breuer, Hotel Marcel New Haven, part of Hilton’s Tapestry Collection, utilizes on-site solar power sources to meet all its electricity needs, resulting in zero carbon emissions. Electric vehicle charging stations are also part of the equation.

The recently launched hotel was the brainchild of lead architect, developer, and owner Bruce Redman Becker. Originally opened in 1970 as the Armstrong Rubber Company headquarters, the structure has been upgraded while retaining a great deal of its modernist design, which is characterized by board-formed concrete, granite tiles, and a focus on functionality, clean lines, and geometric forms.

The 165 custom-designed guest rooms and suites have a minimalist aesthetic; some afford views of downtown New Haven, while others overlook the city’s harbor. Female Bauhaus artists served as an inspiration for the interiors by Brooklyn-based Dutch East Design: colorful armchairs and textiles are juxtaposed with repurposed light fixtures and building materials, such as the restored wood paneling in suites that were once the Armstrong executive offices and conference rooms. The revamp has added 650 square meters of events spaces with a penthouse courtyard.

Midcentury modern–inspired furnishings grace the 165 guest rooms and suites.

Double Queen rooms come with views of New Haven Harbor.

Left to right: Some guest rooms feature a window-side desk; a banquette in the hotel reception.

Becker responded to the ongoing climate crisis with a green design that incorporates cutting-edge features, including a power-over-ethernet lighting system to reduce energy use by more than 30 percent. Triple-glazed windows dramatically reduce outside noise and provide ultra-efficient insulation to keep indoor temperatures stable.

Dining options at the hotel are just as eco-friendly. Modern American restaurant and lounge BLDG (pronounced “building”) puts the emphasis on locally grown ingredients and fresh seafood from the nearby Atlantic; the drinks list features biodynamic and organic wines. (BLDG’s kitchen runs entirely on electricity instead of natural gas.) As well as the restaurant and bar, Hotel Marcel New Haven has a grab-and-go counter offering sustainable snacks as well as design-focused gifts and a water filling station.

hotelmarcel.com; doubles from US$150

Inside a 55-square-meter Corner Windowed King room.

Lounge seating on the ground floor.

The sleek bar at all-day restaurant BLDG.

Architectural details on the hotel’s brutalist exterior.

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