Page D1.1 . 27 September 2000                     
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    Fashion Meets Food at the Brasserie 8-1/2

    by Michael J. Crosbie

    The debut of the new "Brasserie 8-1/2" in New York was attended with all of the usual hype and star power one might expect of a fashionable midtown Manhattan restaurant. Even before its official opening in mid-July, 8-1/2 was the setting of the chic, after-screening party for the movie "Butterfly," thrown by Gwyneth Paltrow. Can you imagine all of this in the basement of a 1974 Gordon Bunshaft building?

    The irony is that the design for Brasserie 8-1/2 by Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates seems light years away from the self-conscious trendiness of the city's star-struck eateries. It's more faithful to Gordon than to Gwyneth, and that's the good news.

    According to architect Hugh Hardy, the overall design of the brasserie "complements Gordon Bunshaft's classic modernism and expresses the owner's desire for simplicity and bold color."

    Unlike the new interior for the brasserie at the Seagram Building a few blocks away, which replaced the classic late-1950s design of Philip Johnson and Mies van der Rohe with today's in-your-face edginess, Hardy's design for the brasserie in the Bunshaft building at 9 West 57th Street, he explains, "is of particular note for a timely reinterpretation of the familiar." That "familiar" being Modern design.

    Designer Ivan Chermayeff designed the big lipstick-red "9" in front of the building, and it is his "8-1/2" that alerts you to the brasserie's entrance. Walk in and you survey a dramatically curved staircase that sweeps down one level to the brasserie's bar and lounge. The stairs peel through a cylinder painted the same shade of red as Chermayeff's famous 9. Want a staircase just made for those dramatic entrances? This is it.



    ArchWeek Photo

    A curved staircase makes for dramatic entrances to Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates's "Brasserie 8-1/2" in New York.
    Photo: Michael Moran

    ArchWeek Photo

    Seen from above, the bar is well scaled and comfortable, with an onyx counter illuminated from below.
    Photo: Michael Moran


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