Chris Rubino Takes Manhattan

One of the 31 back-lit collages that Chris Rubino created for the Distrikt Hotel.

A New York hotel that celebrates New York—that’s the concept behind the new Distrikt Hotel, which opened last week in midtown Manhattan. The 155-room hotel was designed by New York-based OTTE Architecture, and the firm tapped artist and designer Chris Rubino to create collages, murals, and typographic work that explore Manhattan from Harlem to the Financial District.

Each of the hotel’s 31 floors features an eight-foot-long lightbox by Rubino, who sought to highlight the distinct feeling and features of the city’s diverse neighborhoods. “One of the beautiful things about New York is that you can be walking down Eighth Avenue for an hour and feel like you’ve visited five different cities,” he told us. “I know people say New York City has become homogenized, and of course it’s cleaned up now, but I still have no problem feeling which part I’m in.” A challenge of the long-term project was making sure that the neighborhood-themed works didn’t feel isolated from one another. “I tried to find a consistent illustrative collage aesthetic that I could carry throughout the 31 floors while trying to capture a certain feeling in each,” said Rubino. “I didn’t want Midtown to feel like Chinatown.”

After creating a unique collage for every floor of the Distrikt, Rubino decided that the hotel’s cafe neeeded to represent all of them. The result: two 22-foot-long murals that offer guests the opportunity to see elements of the works—and neighborhoods—on floors other than their own. “I took sections of each collage and combined them to create these new images mixed with an illustration of an Althea Bloomingdale, which once grew wild on that very piece of land in the days long before 32-story hotels,” said Rubino. We couldn’t resist asking whether he has a favorite among all of those works. “I really like the Central Park piece (above), that park means so much to me,” he said. “Plus, I had the opportunity to work the Guggenheim into that one, my favorite!” Another intriguing reason to take a closer look? “There is also a hidden secret in that one.”

A mural by Rubino in the Distrikt’s cafe and a typographic treatment on the a hotel wall.

Recommended articles