March 28, 2018
In D.C., the Line Hotel Transforms a Neoclassical Church into a Design Sanctuary
New York–based Sydell Group led the design, which incorporates 60-foot vaulted ceilings, grand copper entry doors, intricate millwork, and ornate brass detailing.
Following the LINE’s Los Angeles flagship—an edgy, Sean Knibb–designed space in a stripped-down, concrete-heavy 1960s building in Koreatown—the eclectic D.C. neighborhood of Adams Morgan seemed an odd change of direction for the hotel’s sophomore iteration.
Andrew Zobler, founder and CEO of Sydell Group—the creative brains behind the brand—notes that it wasn’t so much the location that mattered but the building itself. “We found an old church that was really special on multiple levels. In addition to its beauty, the scale was perfect for a hotel,” he says. “Sometimes when you get an old building, you need to make compromises. But this was almost the opposite.”
The 1912 neoclassical church’s most striking features—all preserved in the hotel’s design, a collaboration with INC Architecture & Design—include 60-foot vaulted ceilings, grand copper entry doors, intricate millwork, and ornate brass detailing. Hymnal boards have been repurposed for wayfinding and original pews provide ample public seating, while the church’s pipe organ has been given new life as a chandelier in the lobby. The 220 guest rooms are located in a contextual addition behind the original building.
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While the church’s impressive scale was one of the project’s greatest charms, it also presented a challenge: how to bring intimacy to such an open, monumental space. The solution was to create a series of food and beverage enclaves, including a lobby café, two restaurant concepts by James Beard Award finalist Erik Bruner-Yang, and a restaurant and bar by James Beard Award–winning chef and restaurateur Spike Gjerde. The latter is located on the lobby’s mezzanine level, with west-facing windows allowing revelers to sip their libations by the twilight of D.C.’s gloaming.
“To me, the big disappointment in a hotel is if you really don’t know if you’re in Minneapolis or Cleveland or L.A.,” says Zobler. “We’re very focused on our repeat guests and having people from the neighborhood use us as a living room.”
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