June 28, 2012
Low Country Luxe
Atlanta Architect Bill Johnson To Design 5-Star Boutique Hotel in Charleston in Collaboration with Starwood Hotels
By Nancy Staab
It’s a homecoming of sorts with Charleston native Bill Johnson of The Johnson Studio creating a boutique hotel in the historic city to open in 2013.
It’s only fitting that Atlanta architect Bill Johnson should land a luxury hotel commission after a career spent designing some of the nation’s top eateries in iconic hotel spaces like The Royce and Tap Room at The Langham hotel, Pasadena; The sexy rooftop bar and State and Lake restaurant at The Wit hotel, Chicago; Fearing’s at The Ritz-Carlton, Dallas; and Eiffel Tower and Mon Ami Gabi at Paris hotel, Las Vegas. And let’s not forget about his latest hot project, R’evolution, the New Orleans eatery ensconced at The Royal Sonesta Hotel. The two-chef concept: with renowned Chefs John Folse laying down Creole Classics and Rick Tramonto (formerly of Tru in Chicago) modernizing them, is garnering huge raves, as is the décor by The Jonson Studio. Now, Johnson has an entire hotel property to play with.
The as–yet-to-be-named Charleston project will include a 60 to 75-room boutique hotel, restaurant, bar and spa with interior architecture and décor by The Johnson Studio. (The firm is also working with base building architect LS3P and developers East West Partners, both of Charleston.)The 5-star hotel will be located in a new mixed-use development called Concord Park and will be centered around the creation of a new green space also called Concord Park. The waterfront development is located near the South Carolina Aquarium, the Charleston Museum and Charleston Maritime Center, and will be managed by upscale hotel group Starwood Hotels & Resorts. The hotel is slated to open in 2013.
As for the design of the hotel, The Johnson Studio will employ lots of traditional materials like aged brick and reclaimed heart pine with found industrial objects used in non-traditional applications for a dash of modern appeal. “Urban Retreat” is the core design concept, with architectural elements reflecting Old World Charleston, while the interiors and artwork will conjure up nature and Charleston’s many fabled gardens. The hotel is meant to embody Southern hospitality merged with modern elements and cool custom features. The hotel’s dramatic entry will include artwork depicting a majestic oak tree canopy that’s projected into the ceiling dome, while the grand staircase entry will lead to to the lobby and courtyard beyond. Flickering gas bar lamps, a polished brass bar top and reclaimed iron gates will lend antebellum romance to the bar area, with a lit display of, what else, bourbons, in the back bar. Suspended artworks of Charleston’s waterways will lead into the restaurant with a reclaimed, industrial window wall, a communal table, and glimpses into the energy and action of the open kitchen.
Guest will be drawn down a promenade of live oak trees to their individual, residential-like door stops with individual door bells. The entry key card may be a modern device, but the card will bear the illustration of an antique key to symbolize a personal retreat. Inside, guests will find four-poster beds, antique reproduction furnishings and whimsical birdcage lamps. If you enjoy the bespoke hotel experience so much that you hate to check out, consider buying into one of 7 Calhoun’s attached residential condo spaces, with all the hotel's services and amenities included.
Stay tuned for further details about the hotel, restaurant and spa, as they develop. With Charleston just down the road as a desirable destination, we predict that many Atlantan who have admired Johnson’s high-energy, atmospheric dining spots (Bistro Niko, One. Midtown Kitchen, Ecco, Kevin Rathbun Steak, Kyma, and The Spence, etc.) will want to check in for Johnson’s full hotel experience. www.johnsonstudio.com and www.7Calhoun.com