Design of the Times

New Orleans, U.S.A.

A design collaboration between renowned craftspersons spanning more than 50 years has resulted in Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences New Orleans, the iconic 34-storey tower set along the Mississippi River. The tower has been painstakingly restored and enhanced through a more than half-billion dollar, three-year conversion to become Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences New Orleans.


Originally designed by legendary modernist architect Edward Durell Stone (Radio City Music Hall, Museum of Modern Art, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts), The International House and International Trade Mart was completed in 1967 and formally dedicated in 1968 to celebrate the 250th anniversary of New Orleans’ founding. Its name was changed to the World Trade Center in 1968 – becoming the first World Trade Center organisation in the world. Since then, this iconic building has towered above the Mississippi River, next to the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center, Financial District, French Quarter, and Warehouse District. At 33-storeys, the World Trade Center was the tallest building in New Orleans from 1967 to 1969. Set at the base of Canal Street and the Mississippi River, the location was the heart of the commercial district, and headquarters of the Port of New Orleans. In fact, the four sections of the compass-shaped tower align with the cardinal points of North, South, East, and West – an ode to navigating the Mighty Mississippi and the importance of New Orleans in global commerce. Recognised on the National Register of Historic Places since 2014, the landmark tower has been raised an additional level, to include a spectacular open-air observation deck, with 360-degree views of the River and New Orleans, aptly celebrating the City’s spirit of survival and rebirth. CambridgeSeven has overseen the notable architectural transformation of the building.

Interior Design

Converting a late 1960s office building into a 21st century luxury hotel was no small task. Lead interior designer Bill Rooney (Bill Rooney Design) knew there would be many challenges and opportunities to blend the historical architectural elements with modern design elements, all tied together by the culture and influence of New Orleans. Rooney’s modern take on traditional is displayed throughout the Hotel, including the lobby, Chandelier Bar, guest rooms and suites, The Spa, pool deck, event spaces, and the private gardens. Set on two riverfront acres (almost a hectare) flanked by lush gardens, the design of Four Seasons New Orleans is inspired by the sanctuary and allure of this botanic backdrop. It is this restful setting that the interiors become a foundation to celebrate the multi-cultural heritage of the city through art, food, and threads of historic influence. It is also a city and place of memories filled with cherished heirlooms. It is from this legacy that the interiors emerge.

Rooney ensured the lobby is centred around Chandelier Bar, which is enveloped by a grand lighting installation made up of varying crystal and glass arrangements creating the hint of an heirloom chandelier shape. The twinkling reflective gentle movement of the chandelier results in an alluring mood. The experience creates a layered story of discovery in a room that is subdivided by contemporary shutter screens made of oak, iron, and curated art that create intimate spaces with their arrangement. The Lobby is envisioned as a garden pavilion, with an interior atmosphere composed of an eclectic and contemporary arrangement of classic curiosities, surrounded by a lush garden sanctuary.

The guest room is formed through references found in nature. With hints of local culture, Rooney’s room design is uniquely influenced by the biophilic and the patterns found in discrete New Orleans gardens. With views of the City and River, the fresh bright white palette is layered carefully with materials, art, and curiosities that remind us of place. This is ultimately expressed through a large plaster wall relief of regional planting that anchors the bed. The plaster relief is complimented by accent lighting and a regional materiality that is articulated with white shiplap walls, soft-washed white oak accents, Carrara stone, Wilton weave carpet patterned after the building plan, and modern furniture forms derived from the modern 20th century spirit of the existing architecture. The gues troom palette is supported by a plan that offers open access to the bathroom from two sides, achieving a flexible layout that is both expansive and filled with light. The room components are balanced with subtle reference to regional elements that blend to make a uniquely modern experience in one of America's most historic cities.

Designed by London-based Alexander Waterworth Interiors, Miss River celebrates elegance and feminine sophistication, with a vibrant yet refined visual palette of shape and colour, where no sharp edges exist. As the signature lobby-level restaurant by Alon Shaya, Miss River has been designed to enhance the fine dining experience, drawing sympathetically on the aesthetic roots of the city, inheriting architectural details from the ironwork of the French Quarter, a tonal palette enriched from the Garden District, and shapes evoking natural elements of the region. Materials and design elements include: pink quartzite polished marble bartop; Fior di Bosco marble; brass detailing on the bar, backbar and decorative screens; bronze detailing on the decorative arched screens; coloured stained glass by artist Lesley Green; bespoke scalloped flooring tile; textured scalloped wallpaper in soft pink tones; walnut timber; silver antiqued mirror; bespoke lighting, utilising brass and linen shades; leathers by Moore & Giles & Whistler; and cotton velvets by Altfield, Dedar and Zimmer+Rhode.