Hospitality industry’s most prestigious awards program honors adaptive reuse project that transforms century-old warehouse/distribution facility into Element Moline, the eco-friendly Element brand’s Illinois debut
On November 12, over 500 hotel industry moguls gathered at the sold-out BDNY Gold Key Awards Gala at Gotham Hall in Midtown Manhattan. The program, sponsored by Boutique Design magazine, “recognizes the most influential and innovative design work in the hospitality industry.”
The jury of leaders in hospitality design, operations, development, and investment industries chose the 96-room Element Moline as the “Best Hotel Focused Service” winner. The project, designed by Legat Architects and Sheedy/DeLaRosa Interiors and built by Russell, beat out hotels in Hong Kong and Manhattan. It retrofits a 100-year-old warehouse/distribution facility into Marriott International’s eco-friendly Element brand’s first Illinois property . . . and its first adaptive reuse project.
The category includes “inexpensive hotels that provide no-frills, basic services. At the lowest price point, there may be a limited range of facilities and meals may be fairly simple.”
“The judges were impressed by the creativity behind Element’s first adaptive reuse project,” said Mary Scoviak, emcee and executive editor of Boutique Design magazine. “Their view was that the design and architecture showed a great deal of innovation in fitting the brand prototype into a non-prototypical facility. They also appreciated the sensitivity in the choices of materials to ensure the hotel reflected Element’s sustainability mandate.”
Legat’s April Maifield and Sheedy/DeLaRosa Interiors’ Marcie DeLaRosa accepted the award at the gala. Element Moline is owned by The Amin Group and operated by Ctwo Hotels.
How to fit a hotel brand prototype in Moline’s historic O’Rourke Building, a former Sears Roebuck & Company warehouse built in 1917? This was the challenge posed to Legat, Sheedy/DeLaRosa, and Russell at the beginning of the Element Moline project. The compromise came in exposing elements of the facility (columns, concrete floors, bricks) to reinforce the brand’s sustainable image.
The project was coordinated through the National Park Service, which works with communities to preserve buildings and local history. The organization reviewed and approved every preservation aspect of the project, including the restored interior portions.
The existing 60,000-square-foot structure holds 65% of guest rooms and a 22,000-square-foot addition houses the remainder. The architect, interior designer, contractor, and owner walked through every room to determine layout and location of furniture and TVs.
Element Moline is the hotel component of The Q, a transit-oriented development that includes a train station with service to Chicago. The hotel renovation includes 16,000 square feet of retail/restaurant space, along with a new glass pavilion that serves as the rail station’s grand hall on the east side.
Millennial and Sustainable
Element Moline was designed and constructed to appeal to a Millennial and sustainable mindset. For instance, a muted color scheme gives the hotel a contemporary feel and lets the exposed elements of the original facility tell a story.
Recycled materials (e.g., bicycle parts, tennis rackets) make up the lobby artwork, while custom-designed bamboo backdrops hold television monitors and keep the lobby space open. Piping in the lobby houses electrical/cable wiring and reinforces the industrial feel of the hotel.
Element Moline also exemplifies transit-oriented development that reduces reliance on automobiles. Its “Bikes to Borrow” program allows guests to check out bicycles for rides on the adjacent Great River Trail that runs along the Mississippi River. Additionally, destinations within walking distance of the hotel include many restaurants, a 12,000-seat multipurpose arena, and an agricultural museum. A bus transfer station is located across the street.
“What a fantastic experience!” writes one TripAdvisor reviewer. “Decor was cool, room was enormous, outdoor patio was nice, breakfast was great, beer/wine/cheese time was excellent. Common area was conducive to hanging out. Place was clean and quiet . . . staff was helpful and friendly . . . and the price was ‘right.’”
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