Located on Tremont Street in the historic city of Boston, MA, the Highball Lounge at the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel transitioned to the Better Sorts Social Club, which is now considered to be a glamorous cocktail-forward, elevated-food concept that better fits with Nine Zero’s concept of melding the city of Boston’s history and tradition with the posh contemporary design and social aesthetic of today’s finest upscale hotels. The renovation of the 3,200-square-foot space is credited to Punch Architecture, an up-and-coming Las Vegas-based (with offices in Denver, Los Angeles and New York City) design and architecture firm.
“We wanted it to be a little quirky, fun and playful, but also classy,” said Zak Ostrowski, one of Punch Architecture’s three partners along with Drew Gregory and Clemente Cicoria. “We wanted it to appeal to the higher-end Boston Brahmins era and still relate to a younger crowd. It has high-end cocktails and food, but it’s also a place you could go to after a game at Fenway (Park) or after a Celtics game.”
The bar design is a throwback to the golden age of classic spirit bars with its elegant sexiness, cheeky sensibilities and enigmatic sensuality, according to Ostrowski. “With a distinctive pull from Boston architecture, it’s the sort of a place where one can dial it back and be low key during the day or week, but also unwind over a sophisticated cocktail during the evening hours after work; while also letting loose during the weekend in a ‘Better Sort’ of way,” he explained.
The intent was to strike a balance between the traditional social club and its low lighting, dark wood panels and stateliness and a more modern upscale cocktail lounge with its open airy atmosphere, brighter lighting and contemporary furniture. Moreover, they wanted to dovetail with Nine Zero’s new aesthetic, which blends modern sophistication with a nod to Boston’s storied history.
Nero Marquina marble was selected for the main bar countertop, POS station countertops and side tabletops. In total, approximately 100 square feet was used. “The use of Nero Marquina as a timeless stone was the perfect complement to the playful design and décor of Better Sorts,” explained the architect. “The marble fits in harmoniously with the overall design and contrasts the jewel tone fabrics, brass, walnut and rich green tiles at the bar.”
A marble variety was also incorporated into the bathroom design. For this area, Rosso Rubino marble was chosen for the vanity tops. In total, roughly 25 square feet was utilized. “The Rosso Rubino is an unexpected pop in the bathroom and adds a sophisticated cheekiness to the space,” said Ostrowski.
Additional materials for the interior design consist of rich and warm American Black Walnut wood walls and flooring contrasted with moody burnished dark green plaster colors, weathered leathers, an accent wall made of textural sea glaze green tiles from Heath Ceramics, exotic yet subtle wallpapers, dark and mysterious antique mirrors and sultry lighting throughout the space. The custom furniture pieces, which were designed and fabricated by Punch Architecture, are made of rich leathers, soft velvets and jewel tone colors set off by hand-crafted walnut and ambrosia maple tables with metal and burl inlays, gently resting on colorful vintage Persian rugs. Also contributing to the overall ambience are whimsical photos, a mix of reclaimed decorative art deco and regency objects made of hand-blown glass, crystal and brass.
“It was a great project,” said Ostrowski. “We were able to use a rich, yet comfortable material palette that works well with the hotel’s redesign. There were a lot of parties involved in the design, so it was a fun collaborative process. We also wanted to be open-minded and have the flexibility to incorporate the Boston environment.”
The design took about six months to complete, with another three months for construction, but the overall project was finished in 16 months due to delayed project start times. “The bar opened on October 4th, and it’s been excellent so far,” said the architect. “There’s been lots of great feedback from locals and tourists alike. It was just an awesome and fun project to work on for great companies and a great city.”
Better Sorts Social Club- Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel
Architect: Punch Architecture, Las Vegas, NV
General Contractor: Aecom Tishman, New York, NY
Tile Manufacturer: Heath Ceramics, Sausalito, CA