W Minneapolis – The Foshay

photo©Evan Dion

The objective was to transform an office tower built in 1929 and which has been listed in the National Register of Historic Places into a stylish boutique hotel.

As a young Canadian design firm, it was a challenge and an inspiration to re-define a cultural landmark that is so important to America’s Mid-West into a modern boutique hotel. W Minneapolis - The Foshay is a project borne of the desire to revive and transform an iconic Art Deco building into a strikingly opulent, stylish hotel and social hub for Minneapolis. The 32-story, 447 foot tower was built in the late 1920s at the height of the roaring twenties. The architecture pays homage to the Washington Monument with its tapering obelisk structure set atop a two story base. The interior is Art Deco in style, with lavish interior features and finishes such as African mahogany, marble from France, Italy and Belgium, gold and silver leafed ceilings, gold plated door hardware and bathroom fittings, and bronze cast details. The original lobby design is particularly spectacular, with fluted Marble Columns, bronze framing with etched and cut glass, and strikingly patterned terrazzo floors, most of which have been restored or replicated in this new Hotel design.

In 2006, a private investment company purchased the historic tower and ventured to preserve the tower’s historic character while transforming it into a stylish boutique hotel.  The hotel program includes 229 guest rooms, including 18 suites, a destination bar on the 27th floor, a signature restaurant, W Hotel’s trademark Living Room, 6,700 square feet of meeting and event space, and an exclusive open-air observation deck (the only observation site in the city). Because of the tower’s obelisk formation, each floor is slightly smaller than the one below; consequently the 229 room Hotel has 57 unique room floor plans compared to an average of seven to 10 for a hotel this size.

The ground floor concept is a study in carefully revealed experiences. Inspired by the roaring twenties, the Art Deco-infused Living Room space is envisioned to be the ultimate insider’s destination. Lavish custom furnishings in black and burgundy leathers, anthracite mohair, and pearlescent white give the visitor a sense that the opulence of the 20s era is still very much alive. The second floor Great Room has a 500 person capacity that is overlooked by a spectacular wall mural that was custom-designed by Munge Leung’s sister graphics firm, Device222. The mural pays homage to the Hotel tower’s past and to Minneapolis in the 20s with a compelling collage of over 100 images selected from the Minnesota Historical Society Archive.

photo©George Heinrich

 

Guest suites were complicated by the fact that no two were exactly the same size, so a furniture and built-in program was developed that afforded flexibility. The dark / light color scheme continues from the Hotel’s Public Spaces, with a carpet that reinterprets the historical geometry of the first floor terrazzo, and updates it with magentas and cyans that tie in the Hotel’s brand vernacular.

Original ornate plaster ceilings at the first-floor arcade ceiling were restored along with the patterned terrazzo floors. The historic entrance arcade provides a passage way towards the reception area where Welcome Desks in the form of glowing jewels in stunning compound curved beveled glass shells enrapture guests with their warmth and glamour. The desks glow as warm beacons at the end of the historical corridor awash in magenta glow, as gradually shifting colors change throughout the day and provide a soothing sense of passing time.

 

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