Pirelli building from east 1990s
COURTESY BOB GREGSON

3 New Hotels Reimagine their Midcentury Buildings

In Seattle, Atlanta, and New Haven, architects have transformed midcentury buildings of varying aesthetic quality into hotels for a modern clientele.

When Eero Saarinen’s TWA terminal at JFK Airport reopened as the TWA Hotel in 2019, it showed the power of midcentury landmarks to appeal to a millennial crowd. But such restorations need not be limited to architectural icons. Nearly every major American city has a collection of midcentury offices, factories, or roadside motels. Today, architects and developers are seeing the opportunities that these unique but often-outdated buildings present. In the hospitality sector, a midcentury reuse boom is underway, given these buildings provide local flavor as well as stylistic diversity. 

Three recent projects show the breadth of aesthetic possibilities for adaptive reuse of these buildings. In Atlanta, a residential tower from the 1950s is reimagined as a destination for the Instagram set infused with midcentury design references. In New Haven, a white-elephant corporate headquarters of precast concrete is converted into a hyper-sustainable hotel in the image of its famous original architect. And in Seattle, decades of haphazard renovations have been stripped away from a space-age motel, returning it to its former glory with contemporary amenities.

Hotel lobby
The lobby of the Kimpton Sylvan Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, features a midcentury-inspired fireplace and furnishings. COURTESY CRIS MOLINA

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