The Roundhouse, Beacon, NY
Beacon has been working on its upscale-upstate identity ever since Dia:Beacon opened in 2003. But years after the town had evolved, the city’s lodging options didn’t quite match the cultural and culinary scene. Then along came Robert McAlpine, a transplant from Long Island and owner of McAlpine Construction, who saw a set of old factory buildings in disrepair along Fishkill Creek and decided to bridge that gap. The result opened in 2012: a hotel, two restaurants, a lounge, and a wedding venue (and next year, a spa) known as the Roundhouse at Beacon Falls.
2 East Main Street
The main Roundhouse building had been at times a lawnimower factory, a felt manufacturer, and a blacksmith’s shop but was boarded up when McAlpine saw it in 2010. The main building’s curved, 16-inch-thick brick wall hovered over the creek, and the place was both architecturally impressive and structurally sound. Its potential was clear.
Well versed in high-end hotel construction, McAlpine set about creating a complex as eco-friendly as it would be chic. “He knew he wanted to do something as green as possible,” says his daughter-in-law, Meghan McAlpine, the Roundhouse’s director of corporate sales and marketing. Inspired by green building LEED standards (but not applying for LEED certification due to additional costs), they used low-VOC paints, low-flow toilets, and motionsensor lights in the elevator (don’t be alarmed when the elevator initially looks dark—the light will go on once you step inside).
They reused materials wherever possible: Bathroom doors in their high-end restaurant, Swift, and paneling in the hallways were crafted from the buildings’ old floorboards. Construction teams restored original windows and reused original bricks. They’re currently refurbishing an old hydroelectric turbine that was recovered on the property, which will eventually supply some of the complex’s electricity.
Robert McAlpine managed to snag the Rockwell Group—one of the most influential design groups in the world—to handle the interiors. “We definitely knew we wanted something modern with industrial elements to reflect the building’s history, but we wanted it to be comfortable and inviting as well,” says Meghan. The look is spare but chic, interrupted by whimsical flourishes: exposed concrete ceilings and glittering sheers; swoops and swirls of hand-blown glass pendants lit with sparkling Edison bulbs that hover over more sober maroon leather banquettes. The hotel rooms are stunning: An octopus-like hand-blown glass light fixture by Ten Willow Studio in Beacon hangs in the bathroom of the penthouse suite and a circular tub by the window, while floor-to-ceiling windows and sliding doors lead to a balcony over the creek.
The 2,500-foot Swift restaurant—a pleasure for both the gourmand and the locavore—is cavernous but can be interrupted by steel and translucent panels that were made in-house and can break the dining room up into different sections. “It gives the space more detail and makes it more intimate,” says Meghan. In the summer, their patio restaurant—a concrete slab along the creek—offers al fresco dining with seating at black, Italian wicker chairs and glass tables beneath market umbrellas. Both the McAlpines and the Rockwell Group made it a priority to tap the vast creative resources of Beacon and its environs. Rockwell Group created the design and then local interior designer Elizabeth Strianese executed it, filling the spaces with the creations of local artists and artisans.
Swift is furnished with tables made from reclaimed wood crafted by local artist Jessica Wickham, a friend of the McAlpines, and lit with glass pendants created by local and world-renowned manufacturer Niche Modern, who also created the chandelier in the sophisticated lounge, 2EM, which is warmed by a wide gas fireplace and furnished with MCM chairs.
Atlas Industries, a modular furniture company based across the river in Newburgh, created the beds and desks in the hotel rooms with raw, but warm, slabs of wood. Local workshop and store Hudson Beach Glass created the wall sconces in the restaurant, and the soap dishes in the hotel bathrooms. Zinc bartops and metal railings came from Beacon-based Metconix, Inc.
And local comes right down to the management of the Roundhouse. While it may look as sleek and beautiful as any high-end chain hotel, it’s actually a family business. Robert’s son Brendan McAlpine is general counsel; his daughter Katie Guerra is general manager, and her husband, Antonia Guerra, is the controller. Both families moved up from New York City to join the endeavor. “We’re all deeply committed to the Roundhouse’s success, and to the city of Beacon,” says Meghan. But there is one problem. “When we’re at family parties, it always ends up turning into work talk.”