When interior designer Terri Haskins began working at downtown Newark's Robert Treat Hotel three years ago, she knew that she faced an interesting challenge.
"Each project varies depending on what it is, the size and the budget," said Haskins, owner and principal of Presentations Elements of Design (PEOD), which is based in Hackensack. "With the Robert Treat, the project is an update, so I'm working with the existing space, rethinking it, and making selections that will make what's there new and fresh."
The Robert Treat Hotel, a longtime landmark in downtown Newark, celebrated its centennial last year. Owned by the Berger Organization since 1987, the hotel is undergoing an ongoing renovation and refurbishing process that is designed to dovetail with increasing business and tourist traffic coming into Newark.
Haskins recently completed the re-design of the hotel's historic Crystal Ballroom and Presidential Suite and is continuing work on the Tri-State Ballroom, the largest in northern New Jersey. The room can seat up to 1,500 people theater-style or up to 1,200 people with either a classroom setup or traditional sit-down dining layout, according to the hotel's website. The Tri-State project is expected to be completed by the end of the year.
"This is a historic hotel, and it has great bones," Haskins said. "I've tried to keep the look classic, but with contemporary finishes."
The revitalization of downtown Newark is nowhere near finished. The Robert Treat is surrounded by the recent signs of this renewal, including the revitalized Military Park, the recently-completed Prudential Financial Tower and the grand re-opening of the historic Hahne's building, which includes a Rutgers-Newark bookstore, art gallery space, residential apartments and a Whole Foods market.
Haskins had some perspective on where her work fits in the new Newark landscape.
"Good design is good design, and anyone can appreciate sophistication and elegance," Haskins said. "Instilling new ideas into existing ideas is not the easiest thing to do, but that's what you have to do to create beautiful work."