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Quirk Hotel’s guest rooms feature furniture custom-designed by Poesis Design, with all of the beds constructed from wood reclaimed from the building. Original local artwork hangs in all of the rooms [Aimee Joyeaux (above bed)] that are accessorized with decorative pillows by KStudio and handwoven throws from Nordt Family Farm. (Photo courtesy Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel)
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A Quirk Hotel guest room, featuring artwork by Harris Johnson (left) and Cindy Neuschwander (over desk). (Photo courtesy Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel)
There have been a number of hotel development projects downtown in recent years, but none have inspired excitement and curiosity like the new Quirk Hotel at 201 W. Broad St., scheduled to open Sept. 17.
Owned by Ted and Katie Ukrop and Quirk Hospitality LLC, and managed by Destination Hotels, the hotel is an extension of the artsy, yet accessible, Quirk brand Katie has honed at the Broad Street gallery and shop she founded in 2005.
The Quirk Hotel straddles history and innovation to present a guest experience that aims to redefine visitors’ — and locals’ — experience of Richmond through the use of clever, thoughtful (and yes, quirky) design. The 75-room art-centric boutique hotel features local art in every room, a gorgeous atrium lobby, a chic rooftop bar, a locally sourced restaurant and even supports an artist-in-residence. Housed in the former J.B. Mosby & Co. department store, the Italian Renaissance building was constructed by New York architects Starrett & van Vleck in 1916. The Quirk Hotel preserves the best parts of the building’s original details, such as the lobby’s groin vault ceiling and ornamental ironwork staircase, while infusing it with contemporary elements such as the glass cube atop the building housing four guest suites.
David Rau, principal with 3north Architects, says the notion that “every guest should be made to feel like a local” was one of the driving philosophies behind the project. But not just any local — locals like the Ukrops: sophisticated and hip with insider knowledge of the city’s up-and-coming artists, best shops and restaurants, and the coolest places to hang.
“This [project] has been great because of the vision of the ownership,” Rau says. “It is not a corporate vision — it is a very personal place.”
Pilar Proffitt and Robert Bristow, the husband and wife team behind Connecticut-based Poesis Design, Quirk Hotel’s interior design firm, say the hotel is a direct reflection of Ted and Katie. “One of the guiding principals I kept thinking about was simple elegance with a dash of humor,” Proffitt says. “I think I could describe the Ukrops the same way: elegant and whimsical at the same time.”
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A desk in a Quirk Hotel guest room. (Photo courtesy Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel)
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A guest room wardrobe. (Photo courtesy of Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel)
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The floors in the guest rooms are the building's original pine, modernized with a light stain. (Photo courtesy of Quirk Hotel, A Destination Hotel)
Pink makes a big appearance in half of the guest rooms, where the walls are painted with Benjamin Moore’s Love and Happiness, a soft, salmon pink that provides an ideal backdrop for the original, local art that hangs in every room. Other rooms are painted in the more subdued shade of Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl.
“From the get-go, we were not just designing a guest room,” Proffitt says. “It has to mean something, it has to have something to set it apart. That is another aspect of hotel design: doing something that has a little bit of a wow factor. It is not like your house.”
The overall look is minimalism infused with personality. The floors are the original pine, modernized with a light stain that contrasts with the dark brown and white lacquer furniture custom-designed by Bristow of Poesis. The walnut beds are made from wood salvaged during the renovation. “I think that is a nice sort of way to be respectful of the building,” Bristow says. Accessories, such as hand-woven blankets from Nordt Family Farm, chic resin ice buckets by Tina Frey and whimsical pillows by Shelly Klein of KStudio add a luxurious touch.
Bathrooms feature frosted glass shower enclosures, marble vanity tops and shimmering mosaic tile. “People love historic hotels, but in the end they have expectations of a modern hotel room,” architect Danny MacNelly of 3north says. “They want to be comfortable and have their needs met.”
The hotel features 75 rooms, and thanks to the challenges of adapting a former department store into a hotel, 23 different room configurations. “It makes for a very unique hotel,” says Christian Kiniry of Bank Street Advisors, co-developer of the project. “You can come and stay more than once and your experience will change each time.” Rates start at $269 per night.
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A period photograph shows the original atrium of J.B. Mosby & Co. department store, soon to be transformed into the bustling lobby of the Quirk Hotel. (Photo courtesy The Valentine)
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The newly transformed lobby of the Quirk Hotel. (Rendering courtesy of 3north Architects)
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Artful tables designed by Robert Bristow and Pilar Proffitt of Poesis Design will be used in the hotel’s lobby.
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Custom display cases nod to the building’s department store past and serve as dividers in the open space. (Rendering courtesy Poesis Design)
Designed as a gathering spot for Richmonders as much as hotel guests, the open lobby nods to the building’s department-store past with large glass display cases used to divide the space.
“The idea was not to build anything in here, to keep it as much like a department store as possible,” explains MacNelly of 3north. “That is part of the [requirements for using historic] tax credits. You have to use as much of the original building as possible.” The façade looks the same as it did when it was built in 1916, with the addition of snappy signage that spells out “Quirk Hotel” in marquee bulbs and windows hand-painted by Ross Trimmer of Sure Hand Signs.
“Everything we’re putting in the lobby can be moved for events,” Kiniry says. “We envision art exhibitions, weddings, gala events … We wanted the space to be as flexible as possible.”
Most of the existing mezzanine was removed, exposing the original ornamental iron staircase during demolition. “A happy discovery,” Kiniry says. “It will be a signature part of the hotel.” The mezzanine was retained at the back of the lobby to create a more intimate gathering space for guests.
A coffee bar is located to the right of the lobby. Lounge seating at the front of the hotel, and in each window bay, provides a place to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee or savor a meal — visitors can order food from the hotel’s restaurant and be served anywhere in the lobby. The kitchen is tucked at the back of the space, alongside the bar. “I will know [the hotel] is a success when you have two people at the bar, and one is a guest and one is a Richmonder, and they are engaged in conversation together,” Ted says.
A community table graces the left side of the lobby, with outdoor dining tables on Broad Street, where the sidewalk has been repaved in sparkling aggregate, “an easy way to define the space,” MacNelly says.
When tackling the lobby, interior designer Proffitt says, “One of the first things I said was I think we need to make the lobby and the furniture look like it has been here for a long time. I didn’t want to do something crazy. It needs to have a sense of elegance, while also being cognizant that the hotel itself is an art hotel.”
The bar, luggage area and reception desk are made from reclaimed pine, salvaged during renovation of the hotel and gallery spaces. A black tile and herringbone wood floor contrasts with furnishings in soft jewel tones, shades of gray and “maybe a little bit of pink,” says Katie. It’s her signature color.
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Local artist Susie Ganch’s installation “From the Pile Series: Triangle Trade, 2015,” constructed from discarded disposable coffee lids, will hang in the hotel’s lobby. (Photo by Etienne Frossard courtesy of Mixed Greens)
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Quirk Hotel artist-in-residence Leigh Suggs will spend six months living and working a few blocks from the hotel. (Photo by Jay Paul)
Katie and Mary Fleming, gallery director at Quirk Gallery, have curated the art for the hotel, with each guest room displaying at least one original piece of local art.
Artists featured include Chris Milk, Aimee Joyeaux, Sonya Clark, Andras Bality, Harris Johnson, Mary Scurlock and Diego Sanchez. Though guests will not be able to buy art directly off the walls, “We can put guests in touch with artists when they admire work in the rooms,” Katie says. “I would love for these artists to sell a lot.”
“The art is supposed to be accessible,” MacNelly adds. “It is not a museum.”
In the lobby, local multimedia artist Susie Ganch’s installation “From the Pile Series: Triangle Trade, 2015” will serve as a focal point at the entrance. Made from white disposable coffee lids, complete with coffee and lipstick stains, the richly textured, layered wall hanging is unexpectedly beautiful while making a statement on disposable culture.
Quirk Hotel also supports an artist-in-residence, providing a studio and apartment just blocks away from the hotel. Leigh Suggs, who earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Virginia Commonwealth University this spring, is the first artist to take advantage of the opportunity. “They haven’t put any expectation on me and I think that’s one of the really nice things they’re providing,” she says of her six-month residency. “I truly have never had six months to just make art … it’s a wonderful opportunity and a blessing.” Hotel guests can make appointments to visit Suggs in her studio.
“Leigh is our guinea pig,” Katie says of the residency program. “At the end, we will have a show of her work at the gallery.”
Quirk Gallery’s new space at 207 W. Broad St. adjoins the hotel. At 1,600 square feet, it is smaller than its previous location, but the new gallery is no less impressive, with walls of glass on its front and back, and a dramatic steel X-brace in its center, a striking architectural element that does double duty: It shores up the hotel next door should there be an earthquake.
Both the gallery and the hotel open onto a black-and-white tiled outdoor courtyard, allowing for flow between the two spaces during events such as gallery openings and reinforcing the concept of an art hotel, where both guests and locals are welcome to mingle and exchange ideas.
Bristow, who grew up in Richmond and knew Ted when both of them were kids, says he has been blown away by the changes he sees on Broad Street.
“The Ukrops have put their money where their mouth is in the city they love and believe in,” Bristow says. “It’s a beautiful thing.”