PHILADELPHIA—Steeped in history and culture, the City of Brotherly Love has something for everyone here, including a new hotel—Aloft Philadelphia Downtown. Housed inside a former bank, the landmark Liberty Title & Trust building, the newly opened 179-room hotel’s design has nods to its financial past and decidedly modern appeal.
HRI Properties LLC, in partnership with Realen Properties, oversaw redevelopment of the historic building into the new hotel, Blackney Hayes Architects served as the project architect and Powers & Company was brought on as the historic consultant. Stonehill Taylor led the interior design.
“The building was actually abandoned for a while, and it was vacant for several years. It wasn’t in great shape and the building was falling apart. The ceiling in the lobby needed to be restored,” said Marinda Thomas, interior designer, Stonehill Taylor.
However, Thomas could see there was plenty of potential and charm in the dilapidated structure.
“It’s really special to work with a space like that. We wanted to be respectful and pay attention to what was there, and we didn’t want to try to re-create history, but put our own mark on it and bring in a more modern twist to it,” Thomas said. “We worked within the Aloft brand standards and brought in modern elements. It becomes evident as you go to the guestrooms, but in the public spaces, we were trying to keep the modern pieces separate. The bar it is set off from the wall and put into the space rather than attached to the historic building.”
Public art is everywhere you turn. Stonehill Taylor’s design team was inspired by this museum without walls and sought to infuse the hotel spaces with its own flair for the artistic landscape.
“We were really focused on the public art in Philadelphia and celebrating the art in the area. We have a few great pieces around the corner from the hotel. When you walk into the space, we have this great classic architecture. We brought in these more modern splashes as well,” said Thomas. “The building itself used to be a bank, and we wanted to highlight that with two silhouettes like you’d see on a coin. From there, we have two sculptural lights similar in shape to the Liberty Bell, but not looking too much like it.”
To acknowledge the city’s role in setting up the first U.S. public libraries, the team incorporated two grand bookcases. The design team also discovered two vaults on the lower levels and outfitted the area with a fitness center and offices.
The hotel’s current aesthetic is a vibrant mix of old and new for a contemporary look and feel.
“We have semi-circle banquettes sprinkled through the lobby space, and there are a lot of geometric shapes playing off the medallions in the lobby and lines on the windows. It pulls inspiration from the architecture of the space,” she said. “We also have these great rugs in the space, relating back to art of the city. We were inspired by brushstrokes, how paint would move across a canvas and how it translates into the space.”