Historically Inspired Hotel Design
By Heather McKeon Interior Design/Studio Director, The Kraemer Group | June 22, 2014
As a Detroit-based designer, I have always had a strong appreciation for historic buildings and the way they are able to narrate the past through architecture. Adaptive reuse projects, which literally reuse an old site or building for a contemporary purpose other than what it was originally built or designed for, have led to the resurrection of some of my city's most iconic landmarks.
My firm has had a hand in many of those projects, and my experience working on them has only enhanced my affection for and understanding of the power and potential of adaptive reuse.
While adaptive reuse is nothing new, in recent years-perhaps due to over-development challenges and the geographic and economic pressures of a recovering market-hospitality owners and developers across the country have been driving a huge wave of these types of projects. In the process, they have transformed unused or underutilized office buildings, factories and other structures into functional contemporary hotels-complete with the must-have features and amenities today's travelers want and expect from their lodging.
In addition to their aesthetic appeal and experiential potential, many adaptive reuse projects have a range of benefits that are attractive to investors and local residents alike: conversion projects can reduce waste, use less energy than demolitions/rebuilds, and have the power to unite and strengthen a community through a renewed sense of shared history and pride. The best adaptive reuse hotel projects can emerge as civic, social and commercial icons: recognizable and even defining symbols of some of America's most important cities.
There is no question that working within the constraints of an existing construction framework is inherently fraught with limitations and obstacles. In many cases, tackling an adaptive reuse project can be as difficult as-or even more difficult than-undertaking a new build with no parameters, restrictions or obligations to history. However, the process of designing and creating the best possible solution for the historic space at hand also presents some of the most exciting opportunities for architects and designers to showcase true innovation.