REVIEW: WHITE ELEPHANT, PALM BEACH, FLORIDA
The transformation of a historic, 100-year-old regional treasure has seen the emergence of a new and contemporary kid on the Palm Beach block. SPACE took a look at the fun and fancy-free White Elephant, which opened its doors to the public at the end of last year.
Like a phoenix rising from the ashes, the reimagining of the iconic Bradley Park Hotel, originally built in 1924 and deemed a historic landmark in 1980 by the Landmarks Commission of Palm Beach, sees new life breathed into its ageing structure with the unveiling of the White Elephant Palm Beach. A new look and new branding, the spirit of the well-loved and charming Bradley Park Hotel still lives on under the new name, opening its doors for the first time at the beginning of November.
New England Development, the hotel’s owner and development company, appointed Elkus Manfredi Architects to envision a design that embraced the unique history of Palm Beach and the architectural significance of the Bradley Park Hotel, while introducing a modern and relaxed casual elegance that is a departure from the more formal aesthetic of Palm Beach.
Set over four storeys with 13 guest rooms and 19 spacious suites, the property exudes the charm and comfort akin to a residential property with plenty of Mediterranean personality.
The interior of the building was completely gutted to accommodate structural repairs and enhancements as well as to allow the overall layout of guest rooms to be reconfigured. The new layout of the hotel now takes full advantage of outdoor spaces, most prominently featuring a central outdoor courtyard that is the social heart of the hotel and the setting for poolside lounging and dining. Incorporated into the ground level, Lola 41 Global Bistro & Sushi Bar is a new signature restaurant with outdoor courtyard dining and private dining rooms.
In order to create a hotel as unique as the building it resides within, Elkus Manfredi designed bespoke furniture and accent pieces to adorn the interiors from tabletops and seating to detailed millwork and bold graphics. At every turn and every touch point, designers have created intimate, unexpected moments of surprise and delight for returning guests to discover something new with each visit.
The interiors are very much intended to feel homely but in as contemporary manor as possible. Layering has been utilised to add texture and a feel of sumptuousness to guest rooms and a palette of warm neutrals has been used throughout the hotel, which gives the whole project a light and airy feel. In the lobby, the designers wanted the interior lighting to be dramatic with contrast, which has been achieved by aiming light fixtures in different directions that create accents and intimate pools of light.
Among the unique features that set White Elephant Palm Beach apart is its collection of museum-quality original artwork specifically curated for this venue. A celebration of creativity and a natural extension of the hotel’s inclusive feel, original artwork is found throughout the hotel in public spaces, guest rooms, and even bathrooms.
Also leading the architectural design, Elkus Manfredi had plenty of challenges to face with the historic building. Due to the landmarked Bradley Park Hotel’s iconic architecture and role in Palm Beach history, the Landmark Preservation Commission of Palm Beach and the National Park Service were engaged in the restoration and renovation. Designers worked closely with both agencies, which assessed and approved all design elements.
An original architectural feature emphasised by the agencies reviewing the plans was the maintenance of the strong centre axis of the original design. Two existing historic low walls that were the original boundary of the courtyard on the street and flanked the previously centrally located entry needed to remain in their exact location. To work with this requirement, designers pushed the pool and pool lounging area further into the original planting area at the front of the hotel at the street and incorporated the wing walls as a privacy screen for a sunbathing area behind the pool. While the main front entry to the hotel was moved to one side, the retained wing walls are a visual reminder of the hotel’s historic central axis and now serve a new purpose.
Mechanical challenges included wall air conditioners that had been retrofitted into the hotel at a point in the past. The air conditioning units were removed, the walls repaired, and central air conditioning incorporated for all the guest rooms without compromising the ceiling height.
Historic scalloped balcony railings were not designed to today’s building codes and therefore had to be redesigned with a discreet layer of cables behind the scalloped details and a glass addition to the top to meet height requirements while maintaining the look of the original balconies.
A new stucco finish was applied to the entire façade, and original trim and details were restored. To give the property a more contemporary feel, contrasting black trim on exterior elements are set against the soft white of the new finish while black and white striped awnings, dark-stained doors, and window frames work in harmony to give the building stance and kerb-appeal. While this treatment was not part of the structure’s original style, each element was applied in a way that is in complete harmony with the architecture.
Now greeting its first visitors, White Elephant Palm Beach is a welcome sight on the Floridian coastline. Its restoration from its former life as the Bradley Park Hotel has injected life and soul into not just the bricks and mortar, but into the hotel’s whole ambience – a feat of clever design and creative flair.
DEVELOPMENT & MANAGEMENT: New England Development DESIGN: Elkus Manfredi Architects
SUPPLIERS: Fabrics: Justin David Hospitality, Brunschwig & Fils, Harlequin, Fayce Textiles, HBF, Sunbrella, Valley Forge Stone: Meili Sand, Carrara Marble, Caesarstone Wallcoverings: Phillip Jeffries, Maya Romanoff, Fayce Textiles, Wolf Gordon Wood Flooring: Baltic Treasures Carpet: Tom Dixon, Karastan Hospitality, Pierpoint, JJ Invision Hospitality Millwork: Richelieu Millwork Hardware Furniture: Vaughn Benz, Contraxx, LumiDesign, Uttermost, Palecek, Expormim, RH, Janus & Cie Outdoor, Tuuci Lighting: Pigeon & Toe Decorative Lighting, Litetops, Palecek, Mitzi Lighting, Fanimation Appliances: Wolf & Sub-zero Wall tiles: Garden State Tiles, Daltile, StoneImpressions Floor tiles: Cancos Stone & Tile Plumbing Fixtures: Waterworks