Exciting things are happening at the Waldorf Astoria. Since 2017, the iconic NYC landmark has been closed to the public as it was being extensively restored and transformed to offer residences for the first time ever. Sales of the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria launched earlier this year. But what was restoring and updating such a legendary structure like? How did this lengthy process unfold? To peek behind the curtain, we spoke with Frank Mahan, Associate Director at world-renowned Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, the architecture firm on the project.
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At SOM, we conducted extensive research into the Waldorf Astoria’s original design. We found Schultze & Weaver’s archives at the Wolfsonian at Florida International University and scanned the specifications, lists of materials, and anything else we could find. The Waldorf Astoria has its own archives as well, and we were able to determine what the building looked like in the 1930s. We then cross-referenced that with photos taken during significant events held over the last nine decades and learned not only what was changed, but when each renovation was made. All of this information is very important to know when you’re redesigning the spaces – it gives you a sense of how people understand the building today.