Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 77

perspectives

interview

rakel cohen
By Kathleen Kervin
Photography by Ron Blunt, and courtesy of the Watergate Hotel (headshot)

REWRITING
HISTORY

A design-forward developer embraces a DC relic

It's not every day that someone gets to reinvent
a place with as much history-and infamy-
as DC's Watergate Hotel. It would be a lot of
pressure for any developer, let alone a first time
hotelier like Rakel Cohen. A Montreal native,
Cohen moved to Washington, DC to study
finance and marketing at the University of
Maryland before making her way to New York.
There, after a few entry-level finance positions,
she met her now-husband, Jacques, and went to
work with him as senior vice president of design
and development at his newly formed firm,
Euro Capital Properties (ECP), which he started
in 2008. With the purchase of the Watergate
Hotel in 2010-the first property owned and
managed by ECP-Cohen took on the challenge
of overseeing the restoration of the historic
property, enlisting local firm BBGM as architect
of record and famed Israeli designer Ron Arad to
help execute her vision (Arad designed the public
spaces; she handled the rooms). Here, she talks
challenges, sweating the details, and embracing
curves.

What was the allure of rehabbing such a
historic structure as the Watergate?

Its name certainly caught our attention, but we
immediately saw the potential to return the hotel
to a state worthy of 'Washington's finest address.'
The design and location are what made me want
to buy it. The hotel has been renovated time and
again, but we were the first to really embrace its
original architecture. It's historically landmarked

1. A curving wall made from
2,500 custom illuminated
bottles creates a stunning
art piece in the Watergate
Hotel's Next Whisky Bar.

and surrounded by residents and business
owners who care deeply about the future of
the complex-we worked closely with the U.S.
Commission of Fine Arts and the National Park
Service, among others. The art scene has always
been in DC, the food scene is there, the fashion
scene is getting there, and it's time for the hotel
scene to catch up.

of the hotel, to the design, to the branding and
marketing. I remember when we first went to
visit the hotel before we purchased it. We stood
on the roof and watched the sunset with my
family. That's when I knew this property could be
the most incredible urban resort in DC, and we'd
definitely need to add a rooftop bar [Top of the
Gate]. The views were too good.

How did you choose Ron Arad?

What were some of the challenges?

I got my hands on as many design and
photography books from the [1960s] as I could.
I pored through old photos, researched online,
and have spent significant time with some
of the longtime residents. Hiring Ron Arad
Architects was a huge part of this. Ron studied
[Italian architect Luigi Moretti, who designed the
original structure in 1965], and he understood
that organic, flowing, avant-garde language that
was needed to bring this hotel back to life. We
also chose renowned architecture firm BBGM
to help us maintain the architecture and bold
curves. I told Ron we wanted to pay homage to
the building, playing up the curvy nature and the
1960s. [But] I didn't need to brief him so much-I
picked him because he understood Moretti's
original concept.

How involved were you in the details?
I was extremely involved, from the purchase

Everyone looked at the building and walked
away from it. Renovating a historic building is
extremely challenging, and we spent a lot of
money making sure we did it right. We partnered
with the right people, and preserved as much
as we could from the original structure but also
made the most out of the views-adding the
outdoor space, blowing out the ceiling in the
restaurant, raising the ground for the ballroom.

Any design standouts?

We embraced its original architecture to bring
its signature undulating curves inside. Next
Whisky Bar is a $2 million piece of art [with]
2,500 custom made whiskey bottles individually
illuminated to form a curved wall that glows.
Kingbird restaurant features postcard views,
double-ceiling height, amazing terraces, Ron
Arad's exclusive Watergate chair, pops of red, and
eight amazing chandeliers. hd

hospitalitydesign.com September 2016

077


http://www.hospitalitydesign.com

Hospitality Design - September 2016

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Hospitality Design - September 2016

Hospitality Design - September 2016
Online Toc
From the Editor
Behind the Design
People
Perspectives
Sketchbook
Places: Philadelphia
Brand Identity: Kimpton
Interview: Rakel Cohen
5 Questions for Loh Lik Peng
Products
Profile: Deborah Lloyd
Trends: Custom Art
Lighting
Textiles
Surfaces
Special Feature: The Challenge of Creativity
Projects
The Asbury
Mar Adentro
Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina
Hotel Saint George
Valencia Lounge Hostel
Hilton Wenchang
Ad Index
Back Space
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Intro
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Hospitality Design - September 2016
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Cover2
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 1
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 2
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 3
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 4
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 5
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 6
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 7
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 8
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 9
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 10
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 11
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 12
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 13
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 14
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 15
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 16
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Online Toc
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 18
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 19
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 20
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 21
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - From the Editor
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 23
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 24
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 25
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Behind the Design
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 27
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 28
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 29
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 30
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 31
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - People
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 33
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 34
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 35
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 36
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 37
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 38
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Perspectives
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 40
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Sketchbook
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 42
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 43
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 44
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 45
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 46
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 47
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 48
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 49
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 50
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 51
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 52
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 53
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 54
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Places: Philadelphia
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 56
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 57
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 58
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 59
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 60
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 61
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 62
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 63
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 64
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Brand Identity: Kimpton
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 66
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 67
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 68
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 69
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 70
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 71
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 72
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 73
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 74
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 75
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 76
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Interview: Rakel Cohen
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 78
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 79
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 5 Questions for Loh Lik Peng
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 81
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 82
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Products
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 84
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Profile: Deborah Lloyd
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 86
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Trends: Custom Art
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 88
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 89
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 90
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 91
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 92
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Lighting
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 94
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 95
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 96
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 97
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 98
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Textiles
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 100
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 101
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 102
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 103
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 104
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Surfaces
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 106
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 107
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 108
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 109
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 110
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 111
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 112
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Special Feature: The Challenge of Creativity
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 114
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 115
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 116
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 117
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 118
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 119
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 120
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 121
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 122
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 123
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 124
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 125
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 126
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 127
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 128
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 129
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 130
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 131
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 132
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 133
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 134
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 135
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 136
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Projects
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - The Asbury
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 139
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 140
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 141
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 142
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 143
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Mar Adentro
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 145
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 146
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 147
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Four Seasons Hotel Casa Medina
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 149
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 150
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 151
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Hotel Saint George
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 153
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 154
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 155
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Valencia Lounge Hostel
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 157
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 158
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 159
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Hilton Wenchang
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 161
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 162
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 163
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 164
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 165
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Ad Index
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 167
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - 168
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Back Space
Hospitality Design - September 2016 - Cover4
https://www.nxtbook.com/emerald/hd/202104
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202101
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202012
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202011
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/fall2020
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202010
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202009
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202008
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202007
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202006
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202005
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/expo2020_showguide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202003
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202002
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/202001
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201912
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201911
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/fall2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201910
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/womeninbusiness_2019
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201909
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201908
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201907
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201906
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201905
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20190304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201902
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201901
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201812
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/womeninbusiness_2018
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201811
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201810
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201809
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201808
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201807
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201806
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201805
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201803
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201802
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201801
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201712
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201711
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201710
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201709
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201708
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201707
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201706
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201705
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20170304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201702
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201701
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201612
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201611
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201610
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201609
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201608
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201607
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201606
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201605
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20160304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20160102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201512
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201511
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201510
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201509
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201508
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201507
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/expo2015_showguide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201505
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20150304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20150102
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201412
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201411
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201410
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201409
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201408
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201407
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/201406
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20140506
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/expo2014_showguide
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20140304
https://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/hd/20140102
https://www.nxtbookmedia.com