written by:
August 23, 2012

When Michael Suomi of Stonehill & Taylor describes the $25 million interior redesign process of the Hyatt Regency Minneapolis, he calls it a "multi-part architectural narrative." Included in the story line are themes of industrial production and a broader "Made-in-America" strategy. Though materials and manufacturers were priced globally, Minnesotan options turned out to be both less expensive and more fitting, making this project a worthy prototype for designing with regional sustainability in mind. We tour the hotel to see the efforts in action.

Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

Fans of classic northern European design traditions will recognize the aesthetic influence of mid-century architects in the Hyatt's new design. One such design icon that proved inspirational was Alvar Aalto, the famed Finnish designer who focused on both personable scales and tactile experiences; Aalto frequently used materials like wood and textured stone—both engaging to the touch—on counters and handrails where human contact happens and the Hyatt utilized that same approach.

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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

The dark-windowed, eggshell-white exterior is unassuming. It is one of a number of mid-sized residential buildings bookending downtown Minneapolis to the south. Condo towers and converted warehouse lofts flank the north side, along the Mississippi River. In sum, it is a narrow, simple, twenty-five-story modern wedge stepping up from a lower-profile street façade.

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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

A spacious great hall with white walls, panels that look like cross-sections of tree trunks, gray slate accents, and a brown-and-grayscale color palette carries the theme of modest Scandinavian understatement. An impressive array of seats and tables, somewhere between mid-century and contemporary in appearance, make for comfortable spaces for conversation, meeting, and greeting areas.

Courtesy of 
2012 Peter Peirce
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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

As the Hyatt’s John Yeadon explains, the need to break up larger and more impersonal elements was a major force driving the renovation. The team traded an uncomfortably open dining area (shown at top) in favor of curtained niches and intimate nooks (below). The new menu features Nordic fare but also Minnesota-based cuisines derived from Scandinavian traditions, among others.

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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

The entryway was radically changed, which helped improve circulation. A hard-to-find service counter was replaced with individual check-in stations made from rough-hewn local granite. The new interior design solutions, shown in the lower image, rendered the need for wayfinding maps and floor plans largely redundant.

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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

An in-depth lighting study led to significantly rebalancing light levels throughout the common areas. To this end, the design team added window treatments as well as large pendant lamps. Small square skylights frame the ceiling space, working in concert with the other details to brighten the space.

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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

There are numerous overt and subtle nods to Minneapolis and Minnesota culture, from a Post-It Note and packing-tape artworks (a tie-in to local company 3M) to paintings of iconographic regional structures by local artists. Even the blue-to-white-to-blue wallpaper on residential levels reflects the lake-and-sky scenery for which the state is famous.

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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel living room

Going beyond the LEED-style checklist approach to sustainable design, Stonehill & Taylor is developing a "Future Green" model of large-scale social and regional sustainability. The hope, in part, is to inspire other hotels in the area to derive both aesthetic cues and materials from local sources. The rooms themselves are conservatively appointed with high-quality but unpretentiously detailed furnishings and artwork—homey in an appropriately midwestern way without feeling kitschy or unsophisticated. The architects cite strong partners—including engaged purchasing agent (The Stout Group) and general contractor (Mike Johnson)—as being vital to identifying materials and manufacturers for everything from the tiles and furnishings to the showers and sinks.

Courtesy of 
2012 Peter Peirce
Originally appeared in 10 Modern Hotels Across the USA
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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

Hennepin Avenue and Nicollet Mall—the main thoroughfares for automotive and pedestrian traffic, respectively—stretch between the structure and the river. Along these streets lie many of the major stores, offices, theaters, restaurants, bars and, clubs of the city. Thanks to the limited traffic alongside the hotel itself, returning to it after a meeting or evening is relatively hassle free. The building is also ideally situated along the Loring Park Greenway, and at the end of the extensive downtown network of skyways, which help commuters and visitors stay off the street during hot summers and cool winters. As the local saying goes, “Minnesota has two seasons: winter and road repair”—the location and configuration of the Hyatt addresses this climactic dualism as well.

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Minneapolis Hyatt Hotel renovation

Fans of classic northern European design traditions will recognize the aesthetic influence of mid-century architects in the Hyatt's new design. One such design icon that proved inspirational was Alvar Aalto, the famed Finnish designer who focused on both personable scales and tactile experiences; Aalto frequently used materials like wood and textured stone—both engaging to the touch—on counters and handrails where human contact happens and the Hyatt utilized that same approach.

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