Friday, March 09, 2007

Hyatt Regency Rochester: 15 Years and Still Unfinished

I know I'm a little late with this post, but as the old saying goes, late is the true path of the righteous. Okay so I made that up, but it sounded good, right? Moving on... Last week's Rochester Business Journal featured a nice article about the 15th anniversary of the opening of the Hyatt Regency Rochester. Like many other high-profile projects in Rochester, the development of the Hyatt was a fumbled mess. The Hyatt began construction in 1987 but ceased after two years for a variety of factors that you can read up on somewhere else. The unfinished shell of the 27-story tower marred the downtown skyline for three years and was the butt of jokes then as the ferry is the butt of jokes now. All good things come to an end of course, and the Hyatt opened to the public in 1992 as the luxury convention hotel that downtown Rochester lacked.

The Hyatt is currently in the midst of a multi-million dollar renovation that is bringing updated rooms and common areas as well as an improved restaurant. Unfortunately, I think they plan on keeping Palladio rather than bringing in a new dining concept, which is certainly disappointing to any loyal downtowner. Regardless, the Hyatt will be returned to its original lustre of 15 years earlier and should please hotel-goers and the convention crowd. That being said, there is one aspect of the Hyatt that was never built and as such, the building should be considered to remain unfinished. The original design by architects Gruzen Samton Steinglass incorporated a crown on the top of the Hyatt. Take a close look at it next time you're in view of the building. It does seem a bit short and stubby, no? Now picture a brass-tinted shiny pyramid-shaped crown atop the hotel. To me, that missing crown is a glaring example of the Rochester area's inability to get things right the first time. While probably exorbitantly costly, the psychological benefit of completely finishing this building as it was intended would be priceless.