Hyatt is hardly a boutique brand, but the international hotel chain is taking an increasingly bespoke approach to its properties. After a handful of successful, locally minded collaborations, New York-based architecture and interior design firm Stonehill & Taylor recently completed work on the chain’s Minneapolis location that boasts a “made in America” ethos throughout the whole site.
The large scale renovation encompassed all major public areas, including the lobby, bar, and addition of a new marketplace, as well as 533 guest rooms on a somewhat tight timeframe of 12 months, as opposed to the standard 18. Stonehill & Taylor was asked to spend as much of the budget as possible in the US. “It’s a commendable directive, and one that was almost absolutely required by the accelerated schedule,” principal Mike Suomi tells Co.Design. “There wasn’t time to have things made by the cheapest bidder--who may not be in our country--because it might not have made it on deadline.”
Research into the city’s history revealed three main, milling-centric industries--timber, grain and flour, and wool--that revolved around a waterfall at the junction of the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers. “These became the source of a lot of our design ideas. Then we looked for manufacturers who were still working in these fields,” Suomi says. Everything from blankets to pottery, raw logs to corridor art, came from this deep dive into the area’s heritage. Stroud, a purchasing agency, did extensive legwork to gather quotes from vendors who would handle some of the bigger orders, such as large quantities of casegoods or seating. “They ended up identifying a lot of manufacturers we’d never heard before.”
The approach represents a potential sea change in strategy when it comes to domestic building. “Up until very recently, projects that were moving forward were set on spending as little money as possible--by taking a long time, they could aggressively bid and rebid to get costs down,” Suomi explains. “When the time saved is of less value than the actual dollars, people scour the earth to find things with no regard to the carbon footprint.” And as for the Minneapolis Hyatt, the shift away from outsourcing has been a success--there’s already plans to renovate an adjacent complex for Hyatt in the same spirit.