Location: Grand Rapids, Michigan
Taking pictures in the dark with only a flash to illuminate this 100+ year old building was a turning point in our design process in summer of 2010. The photos revealed quite a challenge. Nature really took a toll on this abandoned structure as was evident through rotten wood flooring, peeling plaster, caved in ceilings, and rickety stairs. The five-story structure, that once housed a prominent downtown jeweler, had long lost its glory.
Our challenge was to create a five-story boutique hotel, designed to achieve LEED Gold certification, that featured 28 uniquely designed guest rooms. Through demolition and discovery, we determined the building to have been two buildings that were fused together in the 1930's and then added on to later on. The third floor used to be a roof, and the additional two stories utilized heavy timber construction. That marked the third type of construction type for this upcoming hotel. Masonry load bearing, steel frame, and lastly, heavy timber.
Through the use of color, dimensions, and material choice, we used clearly modern architecture in the designing of this historic property, to unambiguously set the new from the pre-existing architecture as well as express the uniqueness of the hotel brand.
Completed in August of 2011, the transformation took place over several months. Blending both the old and the new, timber beams from the fifth floor now adorn the hotel’s street level lounge, and the art deco jeweler's sign has been incorporated into the bar design. At the street level, we incorporated a modern glass facade with large folding windows that visually extend the restaurant area to the city sidewalk, while the green canopy slices through the main facade taking the outside in. The exposed brick tells a story of this aged building on the ground floor as well as in some of the guest rooms.
An alternative to the standard hotel experience, the property has 28 unique guestrooms on four floors. All guest rooms feature architectural light wells or large downtown facing windows that fill each space with natural lighting. Every guest room is uniquely designed and finished, giving each room its own flair and personality. The general undertone of each room is clean, contemporary, modern styling. Guest bathroom countertops are constructed from recycled glass and concrete, while all veneer used throughout the hotel is formaldehyde-free. To increase water efficiency, dual-flush toilets are included in each guestroom, as well as low-flow faucets and showerheads.
Environmentally efficient and conscientious through its re-construction, the hotel experience allows guests to satisfy their eco-conscience without offending their sense of style. The hotel was designed and manufactured with artfully selected green materials, technologies, and practices to reduce negative impacts on the environment. Over 30% of the materials used to construct the hotel were acquired from local sources. Sustainable features include cork flooring, high efficiency heating and cooling units with occupancy sensors, low-VOC paints, energy efficient light fixtures, and locally manufactured furniture.