"Detroit feels like a city of unlimited opportunity," Will Cooper, partner and chief creative officer at ASH NYC says. "We fell in love with the grassroots energy and the people."
Cooper wanted to start the discussion of his work on The Siren Hotel within this mindset, which is one that doesn't see the point in rehashing the negative synonyms that are too often associated with this city's reputation. When ASH NYC arrived in Detroit, the team found a place that values its historic architecture and dynamic culture. There was what he calls the "grit and industry," of course, which tends to cloud perceptions. But there were also beautiful examples of when Detroit was known as the "Paris of the Midwest"—and that's what they wanted to focus on.
The team set their sights on the Wurlitzer Building, an outpost of the musical instrument dealer Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., and made plans to renovate it into a hotel. It had been vacant since 1982 so when the team acquired it in 2015 it was ready for a serious renovation.
"The Wurlitzer Building is very slender and tall, with one of the most beautiful facades we had ever seen," Cooper continues. "It is also very narrow, which makes for a good hotel floor plan but a bad floor plan for just about anything else."
Through a lens of respect and optimism, ASH NYC opened The Siren Hotel two years ago as a gathering place for locals and visitors to eat, drink, sleep, and revel in the Detroit's jewel-toned outside views.
Those colors were so compelling they found their way into the guest bathrooms, too. "The idea was to create captivating bathrooms as jewel boxes, since they're so small, in a material that was inherent to the original space," he says. "The palette inspiration was derived from an iconic building in Downtown Detroit, The Guardian Building, which has exquisite and vibrant Pewabic tiles on the facade and interior lobbies."
While it's only natural to give plenty of attention to the hotel lobby, restaurant, and bar—which each display their own rich colors and textures—the equally eye-catching guest bathrooms show just how much Cooper and his team wanted to drill home their love of Detroit's aesthetic vernacular. At only 50 to 75-square-feet, depending on the guest room, each bathroom is coated in green, blue, or red terrazzo that glows in natural light. Square glass blocks provide privacy between the vanity and shower, but they also act as a geometric accent wall. In other words, it's a master class in making a small space stack up to the rest of its surroundings.
"We made custom terrazzo for this project, as it was a material that we discovered during demolition," Cooper says. "The shower flooring and walls feature a cementitious terrazzo in varying colors. The sinks are a resin terrazzo developed in the same colors as the shower tiles and each sink matches its shower."
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The terrazzo honors the past and welcomes the style of the present, which is exactly what Cooper and his team wanted to do for this city and its now magnificent hotel.
But if you want to do this design for yourself, especially in a powder room, that's not out of the question. In fact, Cooper says it's a simple look to recreate. "The floor and shower pattern is easy to do with basic tiles in high-contrast colors," he says.
"If you're specifically looking for our terrazzo, you can buy them from Balineum in the United Kingdom," he continues. "The glass block is easy to source from any building material supply shop, but the one we used is from Pittsburgh Corning. The vanities were custom made for this hotel, but you could easily find a cool pedestal sink and reglaze it in the color of your choice to match the shower. Better yet, order it in black to match your black toilet, as we've used here."
That's one way to check into a hotel-ready space and never have to leave.
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