July 17, 2018
Stonehill Taylor Refreshes a 1929 Nashville Hotel, Mixing Modern Design with Art Deco
The architects worked around the landmark’s many historical elements—some beautiful (plaster ceilings, looping corbels), some odd (the lobby’s red-and-yellow terrazzo floors).
To comprehend the scale of the changes transforming Nashville, head to the 12th-floor roof deck of the new hotel Holston House. From those heights, construction cranes pivot at eye level, saturating the lots nearby with glassy towers and sprawling megaplexes. The hotel, positioned a few blocks from famous music destinations like Ryman Auditorium and the Country Music Hall of Fame, sits in close proximity to developments catering to Nashville’s growing downtown population, among them the 15-acre mixed-use Nashville Yards.
Holston House has experienced its own evolution: The Marr & Holman–designed building opened in 1929 as the James Robertson Hotel, eventually transitioning into apartments and, later, low-income housing. As it reassumes its original hospitality program in a setting freshly revamped by New York–based architecture firm Stonehill Taylor, Holston House is a landing pad for tourists seeking the “NashVegas” experience.
The 191-room hotel offers up-to-date lodging with a nod to Music City’s history and quirks. Going into the project, Stonehill Taylor knew that the hotel would need to accommodate mixed groups of visitors—not just business people and families but also the revelers for which the town has become known. The designers made tweaks to the traditional guest-room template. Generous but sterile closets hit the chopping block to make room for chic, gentlemanly valets, and the firm split half of the units’ bathrooms in two, separating toilets from showers and vanities to allow larger parties to share facilities more easily.
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The project required working around the landmark’s many historical elements—some beautiful (plaster ceilings, looping corbels), some odd (the lobby’s red-and-yellow terrazzo floors). “We had to create a new language for all the decor that looked fresh, but still went with the Art Deco, eclectic nature of the original design,” says Stonehill principal Michael Suomi. In keeping with that language, there are over-dyed rugs, graphic boot-leather artworks, and glam lighting fixtures from MIX by Trinity.
But the real pleasures here are in the gestures that reflect a keen understanding of the modern traveler: smart, inconspicuous outlet placement; the casual yet refined café space; the savvy seating arrangement at the foot of each bed. These are the kinds of elements that play wingman to visitors as they prepare for a day about town or an evening tuck-in, ready to be lulled to sleep by the hum of honky-tonks.
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