A good design crafts a sense of place, mixing creative aesthetics with a warm, welcoming ambiance. For the AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown, DLR Group tapped into the Michigan locale to create a space guests will want to call home.
“DLR Group’s design for the AC Hotel Grand Rapids Downtown embraces the creative energy of its location, emphasizing the city’s strong art and design culture, and compliments the collection of hotels worldwide,” said Valentina Castellon, senior associate, DLR Group. “The Grand River, which informs Grand Rapids’ urban landscape, also inspired DLR Group’s design details and concepts. The final solution positions Grand Rapids and Michigan as a cultural hub with rich experiences and events unique to the destination, and celebrates the iconic lifestyle brand Marriott is widely recognized for.”
As part of its celebration of the locale, the lobby pays tribute to the early 19th-century Grand Rapids, which was dubbed “furniture city”, by incorporating pieces from Michigan-based manufacturer Herman Miller, as well as 40 other influential designers.
“In addition to the furniture components being sourced from local manufacturers and businesses, an essential component of the hotel’s design is its intentionally curated art collection,” Castellon said. “This unique collection embodies AC Hotel Grand Rapids’ concept by emphasizing geometric forms and the use of light and shadow. DLR Group worked closely with an art consultant to hand-select artists within the community who created one-of-a-kind pieces and new artwork, specifically commissioned for this hotel. The AC Lounge also serves custom brews by Grand Rapids-based breweries and spirits from local distillers, giving travelers a unique taste of the neighborhood they are staying in.”
The lounge is designed to foster a sense of community for guests and locals nearby, as curated programming is implemented year-round, including guest speakers featuring local creatives, art exhibits, tastings and more, said Castellon.
“Additionally, the hotel’s service alley, a restored portion of the city’s original street grid, can be cordoned off as a pedestrian way and event space in support of the community’s world renowned ‘Art Week’ and other public events,” the interior designer added.
Originally, the 130-key hotel served as a warehouse; DLR Group retained the original brick facade. The hotel also has a sleek lobby, dark-tiled floors, hardwood walls, and an Art Deco inspired bar, which Castellon identified as her favorite feature.
“It truly captures the concept of the hotel: the path of least resistance, which was inspired by the motion of the Grand River and the way light plays on it and fog rises from it,” she said. “As you move through the lobby, the curving lines, inspired by the motion of smoke through air, direct your experience and draw your eye into the experience. Given the complexity of the layout of this historic property, we encapsulated a column so that we could allow enough seats at the bar for guests to mingle and enjoy each other’s company. It is the central draw that keeps guests and locals coming back for more.”