Detroit Foundation Hotel – A celebration of downtown Detroit
Shortlisted in the Best Urban Hotel Conversion category of the AHEAD Awards, the Detroit Foundation Hotel – one of the busiest restaurants in Michigan – ushers in a modern, independent hotel experience to support Detroit’s resurgence as a national hotbed for industry and culture.
The 100-key new hotel, owned by the Aparium Group, is located in the former Detroit Fire Department headquarters at the gates of downtown Detroit.
The hotel is also home to The Apparatus Room, a New American restaurant offering a hyper-regional experience demonstrated through the culinary style of Michigan-native and two Michelin-starred chef Thomas Lents.
The hotel rises five stories and is situated on the corner of West Larned Street and Washington Boulevard.
In addition to the re-imagination of the Detroit Fire Department building, the hotel encompasses the adjacent former Pontchartrain Wine Cellars building, featuring a new rooftop ballroom with expansive views of downtown Detroit.
“Detroit is a one-of-a-kind city, with a strong culture and unparalleled sense of pride that we hope the Foundation Hotel truly represents,” said Kevin Robinson, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Aparium Hotel Group.
Designed in partnership with award-winning Simeone Deary Design Group and Detroit-based McIntosh Poris Associates, the hotel’s design demonstrates an appreciation for Detroit’s past while celebrating the city’s exciting future. Detroit’s Sasche Construction oversaw the hotel’s construction while Kraemer Design Group served as the historic consultant.
Guests enter the five-story Neoclassical building through a massive arched, terra cotta-faced portal, originally one of the fire engine doors.
Upon arrival, guests are transported into a voluminous, storey-and-a half space that once housed the fire engines. The space, which incorporates the check-in experience, lobby and a restaurant aptly named The Apparatus Room, is sophisticated yet communal.
The original glazed brick tiles celebrate the building’s history yet the new finishes, decorative lighting and interior architecture add modernity.
The front desk is comprised of vintage, found-furniture credenzas, and a display set back behind the desk runs stories of local artisans and fabricators whose skills, craftsmanship and art went into the hotel’s design.
The 100 guest rooms, which include queen double and king rooms, junior suites as well as the expansive Commissioner Suite, each feature a headboard wall constructed by Architectural Salvage Warehouse Detroit made entirely of repurposed wood.
These statement walls are complemented by custom wallpaper from Detroit Wallpaper Co. featuring printed photographs of historic Detroit architecture. A colour palette of deep chocolates with pastel metallics punctuated with pink and blue accents reminiscent of the paint colours of 1960s-era automobiles add an unexpected hue to the clean and modern guest rooms.
Bob Lambert, general manager of the hotel said: “We are the first boutique hotel in the market here and are offering what we believe to be the right product at the right time. The city has really embraced us, and our first year has been awesome.
“I think that the hotel design has done a great job of blending the building’s original features with a host of modern hotel amenities. The exterior of the building is still recognisable – as is the original glazed brickwork which can be seen when you walk inside. This is a key element of the interior look around which the interior design concept was based.
“Our iconic restaurant and bar is an extension of the lobby. The restaurant is the busiest in the city and both the restaurant and the hotel have won several major awards already. It is incredible to get this recognition and we are very excited about it.
“We have had some excellent feedback on how the hotel reflects the character of Detroit in a unique way, with travellers from around the world mixing with members of the local community. This building has so much relevance to the city.”
Old New House
Old New House specialise in the supply of vintage (typically circa 1930-1960s) and antique (pre 1920s) hand-knotted rugs of Persian and Turkish origin. The company has been in operation since 2010, initially via Etsy, before opening up a bricks and mortar flagship store in Katonah NY in 2016.
Over the years, Old New House has worked with various hotels, stores, special events and restaurants including W.M. Mulherins & Sons of Philadelphia, Agnes B., Club Monaco, Rag and Bone and Google, to name a few. Most recently, the company has been involved with Detroit Foundation Hotel, sourcing and supplying several carpets for the hotel.
Melissa Dilmagham, Old New House, said:
“Hotels are our favourite project to take on because we know that not only are our rugs going to be enjoyed by so many people, but they complete the design aesthetic of a more epic vision. Hotel design is a big undertaking so having one of our vintage rugs be a part of that design is thrilling.”
“At the core, we pride ourselves in excellent customer service, extremely fast communication & turnaround time – we have been known to get a large rug to a customer overnight with ease – as well as our easy return process, transparent pricing, exceptional designer and wholesale interface, and vast inventory of options.
“We are a super small company with a hands-on personal approach, with a large company’s capabilities and offerings.”