“We’re not near a landmark; we’re in a landmark,” says Dagmar Zechmann, the general manager of the new Westin Hamburg hotel. The landmark in question is the Elbphilharmonie building, by , a jagged iceberg hoisted atop a historic brick warehouse along the Elbe River. At the heart of the dramatic structure—now the tallest building in Hamburg—is a 2,200 seat concert hall, which will help make Germany’s second-largest city a cultural destination. But the massive building also contains condos, stores, restaurants, and the 240-room Westin, with interiors by Berlin-based .
Principal Tassilo Bost began working on the hotel in 2008, but said he made very few changes to his design over the years because there was “nothing trendy” about it in the first place. Indeed, the building is dominated by views of the working port of Hamburg, which is constantly in motion. “The theater is outside, so we didn’t need to do theater inside,” he said. Guest rooms are outfitted with pale oak furniture; fittings, taking their cue from Herzog and de Meuron’s bulbous window mullions, are polished stainless steel. Public spaces have carpets and light fixtures that subtly evoke the wave patterns of the Elbe (which Herzog and de Meuron famously echoed in the building’s roofline). Bar and restaurant furniture is by Walter Knoll, which Bost says offers the quality required for a hotel in such an important location.
Color is largely absent, because Bost wanted to circumvent the vagaries of fashion, and because the light pouring through Herzog and de Meuron’s curved, fritted windows projects a range of hues on the white walls. “We must have respect for their art, which is all around us,” says Bost of the Basel-based architects. He added that contractors offered discounts for the chance to contribute to the building, now known to Hamburg residents as the Elb. The Westin's Zechmann understands. “It’s an honor," she says, "to be part of such an icon.”