Marriott Goes Mod
In the nation's capital, Adamstein & Demetriou gives a hotel chain a dose of boutique appeal
Laura Fisher Kaiser -- Interior Design, 1/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
When overhauling a space, the easy route is to take the most eye-catching feature—high ceilings, location, the view—and play it up. In the case of the 1331 bar-lounge at the JW Marriott in Washington, D.C., no such hook existed. "We actually had no positive attributes to work with except the potential for the entire space to be seen from the lobby," says Olvia Demetriou of Washington-based Adamstein & Demetriou, Architecture & Design. To realize that sole element of potential, she, fellow principal Theodore Adamstein, and their team took down a solid wall to reveal full-height frameless glass through which golden light pours out. This glowing "billboard" entices guests to descend a flight of stairs and enter a mod-yet-clubby subterranean retreat that injects a bit of style into Marriott's businesslike reputation.
Inside, the 2,800-square-foot, 99-seat bar-lounge is a far cry from the usual Marriott sports bar. Backlit amber glass sets off modular cubbies in dark-stained ash behind the bar, which is topped with marble. A mixture of concealed incandescents and gelled fluorescents, '50s-style table lamps, and inexpensive inset sconces painted with gold hobby paint add further warmth. Walls upholstered in plush poppy-red fabric absorb sound and add to the aurora effect. Brazilian cherry floors are stained almost black and buffed to a highly reflective sheen. Capacious sofas and deep-seated bar stools have been streamlined to feel roomy within the compressed space. Patrons can watch one of the many flat-screen televisions that are tucked into seating nooks and bar cubbies, surf the Net (most tables have Internet jacks), or read the Wall Street Journal by the fireplace, a new element that transformed a previously dead corner into one of the choicest spots in the hotel.
As with any large corporate client, there were many hoops to jump through. At one point, the chain's design-research department smeared butter and coffee on samples of the faux suede intended for the love seats. The material survived quite nicely, an auspicious sign that other watering holes in the Marriott chain may one day get the Adamstein & Demetriou treatment.