Contract Magazine - January/February 2018 - 88
ESG Architecture & Design
Fe Equus Development
and Aparium Hotel Group
Breathing new life into a 120-year-old building,
the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis is refined and
contemporary, showcasing Minnesota's culture
in a way that residents and visitors alike can
celebrate. "Our design goal was to create a hotel
for locals, to embody who we are in Minneapolis
without being cheesy or clichéd," says Ann Fritz,
the director of interiors at Minneapolis-based ESG
Architecture & Design, which oversaw the project.
The historic nature of the Jackson Building-
built in 1897 and used as a farm implement
showroom and warehouse-inspired the renovation
and interior design of the 124-room hotel within.
Located in the hip North Loop neighborhood near
the Mississippi River, where numerous structures
related to the timber and flour-milling industries
have been converted to modern uses, the 93,000square-foot building boasts 13-foot-tall windows,
exposed old-growth pine beams, Cream City brick
walls, and distinctive exterior masonry.
The boarded-up behemoth sat forebodingly
on a prominent corner until Tim Dixon of Milwaukeebased Fe Equus Development, a partner with
Aparium Hotel Group, saw its potential. Knowing
Minneapolis's history as a center for large sawmills
and hewing-as the process of cutting logs into
lumber is known-he reveled in the building's
"The interior is rich in feel," says Dixon, who
was not interested in a pretty hotel. "Instead, give
me a highly functional, compelling, and approachable
design based on local identity, where guests never
need to leave the hotel because the local culture
is right there."
The local culture starts with the building
itself. A new steel-and-glass vestibule opens into
the lobby and lounge, where original wood floors
lead to a fireplace of blackened steel surrounded
by comfortable furnishings and shelves. The ground
floor also includes the Tullibee restaurant, a bar,
a wine cellar, and a ballroom.
Portions of floors two through five were
removed to create an atrium, topped with a skylight,
that exposes the distinct framing methods used
on each floor. (The building originally had only two
floors, and additional floors were added over time.)
Teardrop-shaped handblown silver-and-purple
glass fixtures by the Foci Minnesota Center for Glass
Arts float within the atrium, creating "purple rain"
in tribute to the musician, and native son, Prince.
The hotel's finishes "are all real materials-
such as solid wood, leather, steel, copper, and
zinc-that will patina over time," Fritz says. "We also
specified materials Minnesotans gravitate toward-
wool and flannel, as well as the plaid pattern-
without stereotyping ourselves as lumberjacks."
Custom Nordic-inspired patterns are discretely
incorporated, and local products fill the
guestrooms: casegoods by Blu Dot, blankets from
Faribault Mills, and Tattersall gin stocked in the
minibars. ESG designed wallcoverings that abstract
pine trees, ducks, and oars as intricate graphics.
To preserve the physical structure, ESG
collaborated with the National Park Service and
State Historic Preservation Office. A shoring system
was installed in order to cut new shafts for elevators
and stairways and to remove structural columns
to open up space for the ballroom. The original fifth
floor and roof of the two west bays were removed
and rebuilt, and a sixth floor was added for a rooftop
deck, bar, and spa.
"Creating a comfortable environment in which
spaces feel curated, thoughtful, and intentional was
our goal, to celebrate the building and our culture,"
Fritz says. "This is us." c
JANUARY | FEBRUARY 2018