NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – New Haven’s newest hotel is in a building that was never meant to be a hotel. Hotel Marcel is named for Marcel Breuer. He was famous in the 1960s when a tire company commissioned him to build its New Haven headquarters.
“And it housed the Armstrong Rubber Company for about a decade,” explained Bruce Becker, an architect with Becker + Becker Associates, which is the developer of Hotel Marcel. “Then the Pirelli company took over, but in the late ’90s, it was abandoned, and the property was sold to IKEA.”
IKEA only used the building for hanging banners about its latest sale. Architect and developer Bruce Becker started thinking about turning it into a hotel. He bought it from IKEA and spent the last year and a half making one of the nicest hotels around out of what was once voted the ugliest building in Connecticut.
“I don’t think anyone considers it to be a pretty building, but it is probably one of the more iconic works of brutalist architecture,” said Becker.
Breuer also designed an iconic metal-framed chair, named for his daughter, Francesca. There is a Cesca chair in every room of the hotel. Things like remote-controlled blinds add to the feeling of luxury.
As nice as everything looks, the Hotel Marcel is about so much more than aesthetics. In fact, the goal of the hotel is to be net-zero power. In other words, they will generate all of the electricity used by the building.
“As a net-zero building, we’ll be producing all of our energy from on-site, renewable energy,” Becker said.
That comes from hundreds of solar panels, many on canopies in the parking lot. Power is stored in giant batteries the size of a large refrigerator.
“And this allows us to operate the hotel when the grid goes down, send power back to the grid,” Becker explained.
All the lighting is special low-wattage, direct current, to save power. The windows have three layers of insulation. That also means that even though the hotel is right next to I-95, you can’t hear any of that traffic noise inside. The hotel has more than 150 rooms, plus multiple meeting and event spaces, all with those environmentally friendly details.
“I think everyone, but travelers included, are conscious of the need to change their habits, to make sure they are not contributing to this climate disaster that we’re experiencing,” said Becker.
Hotel Marcel plans to be open in time for Yale’s graduation in two weeks.