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The Intersection of Preservation and Adaptive Reuse in Hospitality

Ed Wilms

Adaptive reuse of existing buildings allows us to transform beloved community properties into vibrant hospitality destinations. By breathing new life into the places that have been passed down from the generations that came before us, we can preserve a sense of history in these structures and prepare it for the next.

Learn how this shapes our unique approach to hospitality design.

Historic preservation and adaptive reuse offer many benefits. These projects can be more cost effective for owners and operators through historic tax credits and are more sustainable. With the proper vision and execution, the practice of preservation strikes a delicate balance of innovation and ingenuity that lessens our impact on the planet, but it doesn’t come without its unique challenges.

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The Intersection of Preservation and Adaptive Reuse in Hospitality

Three hotels, three locations, three different designs … one approach. The Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District, Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska, and the Surety Hotel in Des Moines, Iowa, all exemplify what it means to preserve history while adapting a space to meet our needs today. In a candid interview, hear from three preservation advocates, Ed Wilms, Aparium Partner Michael Kitchen, and Sherman Associates President Chris Sherman on what it takes to navigate one of these designs.


Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District

The historic Advance Thresher/Emerson-Newton building has been repositioned as the lifestyle brand, Canopy by Hilton Minneapolis Mill District. Built in 1900 and 1904, the pair of buildings has been on the National Historic Register since 1977. Our design highlights the past and transforms the property into a modern upper upscale property.

The interiors draw heavy inspiration from Scandinavian home-works. Abstractions of quilting and weaving are present throughout the hotel’s artwork and in its fixtures and furnishings. Intentional about creating a design that is rooted in the building’s history without feeling overtly industrial, the interior of the hotel exhibits delicate and subtle touch points, celebrating the materiality of the building.

The centerpiece of the building’s lobby is its atrium art installation, a sculpture designed to evoke the image of flour falling from a sifter and brought to life by architectural artists at Trellage-Ferrill Studio. In addition to the atrium sculpture, works from local artists are featured throughout the space that celebrate Minnesota’s natural landscape.


Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel

After a 3-year restoration and expansion, the original 1915 landmark has transformed into a modern 204-guestroom reprieve from the ordinary. Steps away from the now swanky hotel lay microbreweries to recording lounges and renowned barista cafes, all catering this classic Omaha neighborhood to individuals from all walks of life. Storied with history and infused with a revitalized modern cool, the neighborhood can now welcome this contemporary reimaged beacon of history.

Memories founded on the property still live on through reminiscent conversations although its new voice resonates through progressive contemporary design, world class service and activations, shining against its backdrop of remarkable historic detail.


Surety Hotel

When restoring history, combining a modern lifestyle with unmatched service, one can find an experience with certainty and confidence at the Surety Hotel in downtown Des Moines’ “City of Certainties.” The designed experience results from a challenge to merge part heritage and part modernity – a parallel to how we portray ourselves and each of our collective stories.

The guest of the past, as they were in 1913, visited the building intending to deposit, exchange, and consult financially. The guest of today is independent and untethered to the traditional exchange. A new kind of trade is found in this adaptive reuse to a hotel: social currency. Through a network of completely restored historical spaces emerges a local living room and coffee parlor, a contemporary woodfire tavern and connecting solarium and courtyard, meeting spaces, guestrooms and suites that were once offices.

Ed Wilms
Connect with me to start a conversation Ed Wilms, Global Hospitality Leader


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