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The massive facelift of New York’s famed Waldorf Astoria moves into Phase Two

Reconstruction & Renovation

The massive facelift of New York’s famed Waldorf Astoria moves into Phase Two

The refurbished hotel will feature fewer, but larger, guest rooms.

By John Caulfield, Senior Editor | August 21, 2018

The Park Avenue lobby within the Waldorf Astoria is one of the hotel's spaces that is a designated landmark. The iconic hotel is undergoing a complete reconstruction that is scheduled for completion in two years. Image: courtesy of Anbang Insurance Group

The nearly $2 billion reconstruction and renovation of the Waldorf Astoria New York is moving into its second stage of construction.

The iconic hotel, which opened at its current site in 1931, has been closed since February 2017, and is scheduled to reopen in 2021 (one year later than previously announced). With the interior demolition mostly completed, contractor AECOM Tishman has signed a new contract with Anbang Insurance Group, the property’s owner, to begin construction of 350 condominiums and 350 new hotel rooms and suites.

This project, which continues to operate under the Hilton brand, significantly reduces the number of hotel rooms available from its 1,413 guest rooms before the renovation began. However, the size of entry-level rooms after the renovation is completed will average 650 sf. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is the project’s Architect, and Pierre Yves Rochon is designing the interiors and guest rooms.

Prior to the start of this reconstruction, several of the hotel’s more famous spaces were granted landmark status by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, including its West Lounge (better known as Peacock Alley), its Grand Ballroom, and its lobby from Park Avenue that includes 13 murals and a floor mosaic designed by French artist Louis Rigal.

Also included will be the restoration of the hotel’s nine-ft-tall clock, which has stood in the Waldorf’s lobby for decades.

“Anbang has imagined something truly spectacular for this global icon, and we look forward to delivering [its] vision,” says Jay Badame, President of AECOM’s Building Construction Business. All of the landmark spaces will remain open once the reconstruction is completed and the building is reopened.

The Waldorf Astoria is losing around 1,000 guest rooms as a result of its reconstruction and renovation, but the 350 that remain will average 650 sf. Image: (c) SOM | Rendering by Methanoia Inc.


China-based Anbang acquired the Waldorf from the Hilton chain in 2014 for just under $2 billion. Hilton continues to manage the property under a 100-year agreement.

A spokesperson for Anbang tells BD+C that the second construction and renovation phase will involve several core and shell elements, including the installation of new elevators, fireproofing, major MEP equipment, and a new HVAC system. During this phase the building’s exterior façade will be restored, and new windows and roof installed.

However, the future ownership of the Waldorf remains uncertain. Last winter, the Chinese government took over Anbang and jailed its largest shareholder, Wu Xiaohui, on fraud charges. The Wall Street Journal reports that Anbang is under pressure to raise cash and has put up for sale its $5.5 billion luxury hotel portfolio in the U.S., albeit excluding the Waldorf Astoria.

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