Award-winning hospitality group brings contemporary art museum, boutique hotel and Metropole restaurant to the city’s urban core
PRESS RELEASE – Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, the contemporary art collectors behind the award-winning 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky, announced the opening of the company’s second property located in downtown Cincinnati. Building on its mission to engage the public with contemporary art and to support urban revitalization, 21c renovated and restored the 100-year-old former Metropole Hotel into a contemporary art museum, boutique hotel and Metropole restaurant.
“Following the success of 21c Museum Hotel in Louisville, we were approached by civic leaders and mutual friends. They wanted to enliven the cultural center in Cincinnati in the same way we had done in our hometown,” said Steve Wilson, Co-founder and CEO of 21c Museum Hotels. “A museum that is open to the public 24/7 free of charge, showing work from only living artists is at the heart of our museum hotel concept. The Cincinnati project is another historic building that has been reenergized with a contemporary and comfortable design by Deborah Berke. We’re very proud to be opening our second property here and look forward to being part of this community’s art, civic, and business communities.”
The 156-room hotel was recently listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The property offers a new space for visitors and residents of Cincinnati to experience genuine hospitality, enjoy modern, local cuisine and interact with cutting edge contemporary art. Features include:
- 8,000 square feet of exhibition, meeting and event space featuring rotating curated exhibitions, dynamic multi-media installations and cultural programming such as artist lectures and live performances. The exhibition space is open to the public and free of charge, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
- Metropole restaurant, led by executive chef Michael Paley. Metropole’s menu revolves around a custom-built, wood-burning fireplace developed by chef Paley. Showcasing the region’s sustainable farmers and producers, Metropole offers a menu of string-roasted meats, ash-cooked vegetables, house-made charcuterie and more. The menu is complemented by a beverage menu that favors craft beers and bourbon.
- 21c Spa, opening soon, will feature three treatment rooms with heated floors and steam showers with skylights. The third room, a couple’s room, has a whirlpool tub for bath treatments. The spa will offer a variety of facials using RéVive skincare products, as well as massages. Add-on treatments will include body scrubs, wraps, manicures and pedicures, and bath treatments.
- Rooftop Bar, opening in spring 2013, will have stunning views of downtown Cincinnati and the surrounding area. By day, spa guests can enjoy a pre- or post-treatment snack or beverage on the roof terrace. In the evening, the rooftop space will serve cocktails.
Art at 21c Museum Hotel
21c Museum presents a range of arts programming curated by Chief Curator and Director of Art Programming Alice Gray Stites in collaboration with Brown and Wilson, including thought-provoking solo and group exhibitions that reflect the global nature of art today, as well as site-specific, commissioned installations. Additionally, 21c Museum presents a variety of cultural programming, and is open free of charge 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The organization also loans works of art to major museums—among them MASS MoCA, the Contemporary Art Museum Houston, and the National Gallery of Ontario—and collaborates on arts initiatives with artists and cultural organizations world-wide.
The Cincinnati property features site-specific installations commissioned from both emerging and recognized artists, including Grimanesa Amorós, Brian Knep, George Legrady, Anne Peabody, Do Ho Suh, and Werner Reiterer. “Illuminati” is the theme for this collection of interactive, new media projects, designed to engage viewers with art, light, space, and each other. These works create opportunities for visitors and locals to experience dynamic artworks that change, reflect, and animate their surroundings over time.
The museum’s inaugural group exhibition is entitled “OFF-SPRING: New Generations,” and showcases a major body of work by sculptor Judy Fox, called “Power Play,” in addition to an international group of artists including Sanford Biggers, Sam Taylor-Wood, Guy Ben-Ner, Kara Walker, Vee Speers and others.
Design architect Deborah Berke of Deborah Berke Partners created a space that is both historic and contemporary, respecting the character of the once grand hotel, while creating a space to show the work of living artists. Berke collaborated with executive architect Alan Weiskopf of Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff + Goettel, a firm recognized for their significant experience in historic preservation projects. The design integrates many of the building’s original features, including the exterior terra cotta tile, a sweeping staircase leading to the second floor ballroom and the original mosaic tile floors in the restaurant and elevator lobby. Deborah Berke Partners also served as the design architect for the Louisville property, which opened in 2006 and designed 21c Bentonville, opening in the first quarter of 2013.
“The moments of discovery are truly exciting about this building, and this project,” said Berke. “It’s like a scavenger hunt from top to bottom. You will find something of interest throughout the building, and that’s what makes it a great architectural experience.”
Berke’s other work includes the Yale School of Art & New Theater, and the Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York. Her work on 21c Louisville won two AIA chapter awards, one for Excellence for Historic Preservation/Adaptive Reuse and another for Achievement of Excellence in Hotel Design. Berke was a finalist for the 2008 National Design Award for Interior Design, and was recently awarded the new Berkeley-Rupp prize in 2012 for advancing women in architecture and contributing to sustainability.
21c Museum Hotels Team
In addition to Brown and Wilson, 21c Museum Hotels is comprised of a growing team of experienced and entrepreneurial individuals, who oversee the development and operations of the company’s hotel and restaurant projects. In addition to CEO and Co-founder Steve Wilson, the company is led by President and founding partner Craig Greenberg. Greenberg, an expert in historic and new market tax credits, and tax increment financing, has been featured on Bloomberg television and has spoken on the topic at the Urban Land Institute’s Fall 2011 Meeting and at the Lifestyle/Boutique 2012 Hotel Development Conference. The 21c team also includes COO Chett Abramson and Senior Vice President of Operations Sarah Robbins, both formerly of Myriad Restaurant Group; Senior Vice President of Design + Communications Molly Swyers, previously of Gap and Calvin Klein; and General Counsel Phillip Allen, who was with Louisville-based YUM! Brands. With another property in Arkansas near completion, 21c will employ over 500 people across all of its locations within the next two months.
About 21c Museum Hotels
Founded in 2007, 21c Museum Hotels is a growing company that oversees the expansion and management of 21c Museum Hotels nationally. 21c Museum Hotel was founded in Louisville, Kentucky by Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, contemporary art collectors and preservationists, who had a vision for bringing art into people’s daily lives and supporting the revitalization of their hometown. The couple selected architect Deborah Berke to convert five 19th century tobacco and bourbon warehouses into a 90-room boutique hotel, contemporary art museum, award-winning restaurant Proof on Main, and cultural civic center in the heart of downtown Louisville. The property’s 9,000 square feet of contemporary art space features a rotating program of curated exhibitions as well as site-specific commissioned installations. 21c Louisville has earned top honors five years in a row in the Condé Nast Traveler annual Readers’ Choice survey and was voted among the top hotels in the world. With the success of the Louisville property, and with strong local partners who share the belief that art can be an economic driver for a community, 21c is expanding outside of Louisville. 21c Cincinnati opened in November of 2012, in the 100-year-old former Metropole Hotel building in the heart of downtown’s Backstage District. Offering 8,000 square feet of exhibition and meeting space, multi-media site-specific art installations, 156 rooms and a spa and rooftop bar. The property also features Metropole restaurant led by chef Michael Paley. The company will open its third hotel in Bentonville, AR in the first quarter of 2013; and future properties have been announced in Lexington, KY and Durham, NC.
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