Balancing Fresh Design and Historic Architecture
Set in the heart of Seattle’s Pioneer Square - one of the most historic tourist districts in America - the Alaska Building, which is now a division of Courtyard by the Marriott Brand, recently went through an interior reconstruction and renovation. The project, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, involved salvaging original stone pieces, and also selecting new materials that would respect and match the historic nature of this structure.
“We had to keep two different things in mind,” said Zoë Perpich, Associate Interior Designer and Project Lead Designer at Degen & Degen of Seattle, WA, which served as the interior design architect for the project. “One was to respect the historic nature of the building, and the other was to also respect the Marriott Brand.”
According to a statement released by Degen & Degen, the design was “influenced by the building’s original detailing and marble as well as the surrounding views to alter the brand’s color scheme.” Moreover, the design team had to fit in modern elements. “The design solution was to float a bold new interior within this century-old architectural framework,” said the statement.
The original main lobby consisted of Alaska Gray marble that was salvaged, restored and cleaned for some of the new main spaces. At the time of the reconstruction, this area was converted into the foyer/elevator area of the new lobby, still featuring floor-to-ceiling marble walls, a restored original bronze mail shoot and a marble ceiling with untouched arches and plaster molding details. Some of the original Alaska Gray marble was then carried into the new main lobby’s reception area.
To introduce a contemporary feel, new materials were either “floating,” held back or suspended from the original structure, so that the historic elements remained untouched, according to Perpich. Such materials in the lobby include 6600 Nougat from CaesarStone Quartz Surfacing of Van Nuys, CA, for the front desk pedestals/transaction tops, a “quick print” countertop and market countertops. The same material was brought into the public restrooms as vanity tops, in the Lounge Bar at the Bistro Restaurant and for countertops in the meeting room and ballroom.