James Park works on Mumbai’s terrorism-hit Taj hotel

The Taj Mahal Palace & Tower, a luxury Mumbai hotel known globally since it suffered a devastating terrorist attack last November, will soon unveil new interiors by James Park Associates and others.

JPA claims that it was appointed just two weeks after the 60-hour siege, which killed more than 150 people, on the strength of its previous work for hotel group Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces.

The group reports it was initially briefed to advise on the rapid reopening of the Taj’s least damaged building, the Tower wing. However, the remit soon expanded to include revamping and refurbishing most of the hotel, claims JPA.

‘The Tower wing was not that badly damaged, but the older heritage wing required a lot more work,’ says David Edwards, managing director of JPA’s Singapore office.

During the attack, fire ripped through the fifth and sixth floors of the hotel, destroying its dome. The core of the hotel was devastated by grenade explosions and many areas were peppered with bullet holes.

Although much of the damage was not structural, its extensive nature has given JPA an opportunity to strip away some late 20th-century design interventions ‘to take the interiors closer to how we feel the hotel would have been originally’, says Edwards.

The consultancy claims it renovated 280 rooms with 40 different configurations, which Edwards describes as ‘very challenging’. JPA has created five new colour schemes for the guest rooms.

‘Although the colours are more vibrant than those the hotel previously had, they are very Indian,’ says Edwards. The public areas will feature four further schemes.

JPA is also designing four of 16 themed suites, including one called Ravi Shankar. The suite, says Edwards, will not follow the ‘predictable’ 1960s theming he believes most would expect. ‘It is a fairly classical design, in keeping with the building, reflecting the diversity and number of generations Shankar has influenced’. The rooms will feature one of the musician’s sitars.

Other themed suites and some food and beverage offers are being designed by US-based architect and interiors consultancies Rockwell Group and Bamo, Singaporebased Lim Teo & Wilkes Design Works and Italian group Lissoni Associati, says Edwards.

A phased opening from now until February will unveil JPA’s redesigned guest rooms and executive suites, lobby and reception, grand staircase and central dome, poolside lounge, palace lounge and main lobby.

– The Taj Mahal Palace hotel resort opens, built in Indo- Saracenic style. The hotel features a dome allegedly made with the same steel as was used in the Eiffel Tower in Paris. The Taj claims it was the first hotel in India to feature a steam elevator
1973 – Tower wing constructed as a separate building 26 November 2008 – terrorist attacks damage the hotel. The owner vows to renovate it at an estimated cost of INR5bn (£65m)

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