CODA Design Awards
The Alexander Hotel is a unique, art-centered hotel located in downtown Indianapolis. The hotel has 209 guest rooms and extended stay apartments as well as a large conference center, a fitness center, the popular Platt 99 bar and a casual dining restaurant. The hotel raises the bar for creating an authentic, guest-focused lodging experience by including stylish interior spaces that showcase an extensive art collection curated by the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA). Fourteen of the 26 artists with original work at the hotel were commissioned to produce art specifically for the project.
Hotel Alexander owner, Buckingham Companies, vowed to change the cultural landscape of Indianapolis for the better. They wanted to create a hotel that would deliver a guest experience that is authentic and compelling. They engaged the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) to help them assemble an original collection of art that is thought provoking and engaging. The design team was tasked with creating optimal viewing opportunities for the art. Classic, contemporary finishes and furniture were selected, the color palette is subdued and natural and artificial light is balanced to showcase the artwork. Art is featured throughout the hotel and in the garage and the guest rooms. The art adds to the overall ambience of the space, but it also serves an educational purpose and makes art more accessible to people who may not frequent art museums. Each piece features museum-style wall texts and artist statements. All front-of-house employees are expected to pass a four-page exam on the work so they can serve as docents to guests. Recently, a museum store, Art + Supply, was added to the hotel to allow guests to take the art experience home with them.
Other art hotels feature private collections. The Alexander collection is unique in that most of the pieces were commissioned for the hotel. When the developer approached IMA about the project, the museum looked upon it as an opportunity to improve the quality of contemporary art around the city. The project’s curators were given great latitude in amassing an original collection. They engaged artists who they felt would create experiences for visitors that would be defining. The hotel’s artistic centerpiece is the Plat 99 bar designed in collaboration with the Cuban-born artist Jorge Pardo. Other notable installations include: Standing Wave (2012), a floor-to-ceiling installation on the ground floor by New York-based Alyson Shotz; 39 point 76181 degrees North 86 point 154668 degrees West (2012), a 16-foot-wide, nearly 13-foot-high sculpture in polished, laser-cut stainless steel by New York-based artist Mark Fox; graffiti art by British artist Nick Walker (also known as “Vandal”) in the parking garage; and a large portrait created entirely of black combs entitled Madam C.J. Walker II (2012) by Virginia-based artist Sonya Clark. Once selections were made, they were shared with the design team who created prime display opportunities.
Integrating art into everyday life heightens the visitor experience. Bringing artists from all over the country to downtown Indianapolis is a real boom to the city. The work is inspiring, educational and thought provoking. Art is included in every area of the hotel from the entry, to the lobby, to the conference center, to the guest rooms and even to the garage. The hotel has a museum-like quality while at the same time being very approachable and comfortable.