Marcus Hotels & Resorts announced Tuesday morning that New York-based architecture and interior design firm Stonehill Taylor and Chicago branding agency One Design Company have been tapped to transform the InterContinental Milwaukee, 139 E. Kilbourn Ave., into a new arts-themed hotel.
Marcus says the 221-room hotel will become "an immersive arts-focused hotel." News that the InterContinental would become an independent hotel first emerged in January. No name for the new hotel has yet been announced.
According to a press release issued this morning, the hotel will "showcase world-class artists from around the region and the world, ... will celebrate art in its many forms, including visual arts, music, theater, dance and literature."
Arts-focused hotels are not new and they appear to be hotter than ever right now – witness the 21C Museum Hotels.
Although the InterContinental Milwaukee has also always embraced art, including via a free, public gallery off the lobby, Marcus says it will work with its new design and branding teams, "to blend Milwaukee’s renowned arts scene and cultural heritage into a creatively bold arts hotel that is unlike anything the market has seen before."
One Design Company will coordinate the development of the new hotel’s brand, including its name and logo. Stonehill Taylor, meanwhile, will coordinate the new boutique property’s interior design.
According to this morning’s statement, the teams are both currently engaged in the initial research stage with Marcus Hotels, which includes visiting galleries and museums, meeting with artists, attending performances and discussions with residents and visitors to the city.
"To our knowledge, this will be one of the only hotel concepts in the United States that truly incorporates all forms of art throughout the entire hotel," said Gregory S. Marcus, president and CEO of The Marcus Corporation.
"In Stonehill Taylor and One Design Company, we believe we’ve found partners who share our vision, are daring, yet not afraid of subtlety, and have the experience to design more than a hotel – a true destination with a reimagined place in our community. Together with our collaborators, we will break boundaries and create an entirely new opportunity for locals and visitors alike to experience Milwaukee through a different lens."
The hotel, slated to open by the middle of next year is expected to include art exhibitions, installations and programming, furniture and amenities "that themselves can be considered pieces of art," Milwaukee-made products and at least one – maybe more – working art studios, mirroring one in the lobby of The Pfister, another Downtown Marcus Hotels & Resorts property.
"As a Milwaukee native with deep family ties to the local creative community, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the opportunity for the One Design team to collaborate on such an amazing and important property for the city," said David Sieren, design director and partner of One Design Company.
"The chance to tap into creative talent and perspective from throughout the community, alongside the teams at Marcus Hotels and Stonehill Taylor, is astounding."
"We are thrilled to join Marcus Hotels & Resorts to bring a new hotel concept to downtown Milwaukee," said Michael Suomi, principal of Stonehill Taylor.
"This innovative hotel will celebrate the essence of Milwaukee’s thriving arts community, while incorporating curated pieces from well-known and up-and-coming artists alike. We are inspired by the team’s vision for this property and the impact it will have on its guests, associates and the community."
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in an episode of TV's "Party of Five," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.