Copper in the Arts

November 2011

The Standard Grill: Simple Copper Pennies Create An Extraordinary Floor

By Nancy Ballou

Copper penny floor. Copper penny floor at The Standard Hotel.

Photograph courtesy of The Standard Hotel

The original one-cent piece has become an American icon. And, at the Standard Grill, located in New York City's hip West Side neighborhood, the penny has met its fashionable match.

When designers Robin Standefer and Stephen Alesch of New York-based design firm Roman and Williams created the floor at The Standard Grill, they envisioned a floor composed entirely of glowing copper pennies - 480,000 of them to be exact.

The design echoes old New York and captures the essence of The Standard Hotel renovation by utilizing traditional copper material in the traditional American restaurant. Because the design company prides itself in the use of materiality and practicality rather than conceptualization, they enjoy using the familiar in new ways. They wanted to turn a simple everyday element into something extraordinary.

"The pennies were obtained from a currency vendor so we had no control over the dates of the coins," says Joey Jolleo, The Standard Hotel's media representative. "We actually had to pay 13 cents for each of the 480,000 pennies, one cent for the cost and 12 cents for taking each coin out of circulation. The pennies were purchased in square-foot tiles already cut and evenly spaced so they did not require one by one placement. It was also convenient to trim the squares where they met the walls. A clear adhesive film was applied to the backs of the tiles and they were placed face down onto wet epoxy grout covering a sub-floor of lightweight concrete. When the grout dried, the clear adhesive film was removed. A shellac was later applied on top to keep them in place. Construction of the floor took about a week to complete. Kids try to pull the pennies up and so far have not been successful. Wear and tear has caused some patina during the aging process, though."

The pennies cover 1,650 square feet and can be cleaned with ordinary cleansers.

The restaurant's open kitchen plan features award-winnng chef, Dan Silverman, cooking under an elegant copper hood canopy. Subtly partitioned red leather booths and a barrel-vaulted ceiling lend a spacious effect to the dining room. The Western drink menu also pays homage to the traditional copper design with its PENNY DROP cocktail, a mix of vodka, house made ginger cordial, lime juice, ginger beer and fresh ginger served in a copper mug. Stars or people from the theater and fashion industries frequently gather there.

The Standard Hotel, where The Standard Grill is located, bridges over the High Line section of the former elevated freight railroad's West Side Line in the meatpacking district. It was redesigned and opened its public park in June of 2009.


The Standard Grill, 848 Washington Street, New York, NY 10014, (212) 645-4646

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