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Becker Joins Fine Arts Commission

The sustainability-focused architect behind the development of Connecticut’s Hotel Marcel, Bruce Redman Becker, begins a new journey with the president’s prestigious honor

By Linden M. Bayliss

Architect and developer Bruce Redman Becker of Hotel Marcel is appointed to the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts. || Courtesy of Hotel Marcel

Bruce Redman Becker, the architect and developer behind forward-thinking Hotel Marcel New Haven, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, in New Haven, Connecticut, has been appointed by President Joseph Biden to join the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts as of May 13. The commission is composed of seven presidentially appointed experts in the fields of art, architecture, landscape architecture, and urban design that advise the U.S. government on matters pertaining to the arts and oversee the design and architecture of construction within Washington, D.C., including buildings and national symbols. Becker is currently president of Becker and Becker, an integrated sustainable architecture and development firm in Westport, Connecticut.

“It’s a profound honor to serve on the commission that helps shape the buildings and landscape in our nation’s capital,” says Becker. “The design of the city embodies our democratic ideals and our unique American culture, and as our values and aspirations evolve, the commission helps the city keep pace to best reflect these ideals.” Becker plans to bring the same passion for sustainability to the commission that he did to perhaps his most notable career undertaking, the sustainable preservation and adaptive re-use project Hotel Marcel.

Hotel Marcel, located in the Brutalist-style building designed by architect Marcel Breuer (formerly known as the Pirelli Tire Building), is a zero-emission boutique hotel that is the first hotel in the country to operate on 100% electricity and be completely free of fossil fuels—it is also the first hotel in the U.S. to be designated by the Passive House Institute as a Certified Passive House and one of the few hotels in the country to achieve LEED Platinum certification. Becker purchased the building in 2019 from its then-owner Ikea, and transformed it into the marker of sustainability it is today. “We purchased the Pirelli Tire Building to create a model for sustainable hospitality,” says Becker, “and to demonstrate that a beautiful hotel can provide ‘hospitality for the planet’ while also providing greater comfort for overnight and meeting guests.” The hotel opened in May 2022 and is operated by Charlestowne Hotels based in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.

Exterior of zero-emission Hotel Marcel, housed in the former Pirelli Tire Building originally designed by modernist architect Marcel Breuer || Courtesy of Hotel Marcel

Hotel Marcel General Manager Ben Webster notes that guests can certainly feel (and breathe) the difference when staying at the zero-emission hotel compared to traditional lodging. “The way the building was insulated, plus our triple-glazed windows, gives guests the quietest hotel and meeting experience they have ever enjoyed,” he explains. “The building is the only Passive House-certified hotel in the U.S., which requires three times the amount of fresh air recovered into the building than a traditional hotel. Guests feel those differences in their meetings and events.” In addition, food at the hotel is sustainably sourced and prepared in a fully induction and zero-emission kitchen for planners and attendees to enjoy—and feel good about. The hotel can accommodate meetings and events of up to 300 attendees.

Catering from the induction kitchen at Hotel Marcel || Courtesy of Hotel Marcel

Becker has had a long and fruitful career, one that includes not only the creation of Hotel Marcel but also the design and development of two LEED Platinum-certified apartment buildings, one of which was previously the Bank of America tower designed by Welton Becket in Hartford, Connecticut. He also renovated his historic Connecticut home in Westport to have zero emissions. As a part of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, Becker will work alongside distinguished colleagues to guide both public and private projects that have what he calls “tremendous symbolic value.”

“As a commissioner, I hope to help guide the preservation and development of Washington, D.C., to have a sustainable future and serve as an example for the nation,” says Becker. “I’m as interested in the broader cultural impact of the built environment as I am in the details of great aesthetic and sustainable design.”