HOUSTON – (By Cynthia Lescalleet for Realty News Report) – On a shared block in Montrose, a partnered pair of recently completed projects contrasts and comingles their assets, one an iconic historic mansion-based hotel, the other a modern upscale apartment tower.
The former, family-owned La Colombe d’Or Hotel, reopens March 29 following an extensive renovation and expansion.
The latter, The Residences at La Colombe d’Or, is privately held Hines’ stonking new high-rise that began leasing units in August 2020.
Each entity operates separately. By design and intent, however, each shares many of its common spaces, amenities and interior aesthetics to combine the classic with the contemporary.
As an example of the deliberate connectivity between the adjacent structures, a through-view corridor and breezeway link between tower and hotel; it is possible upon entering either venture to see into the other — as well as peek at the hotel’s nine garden bungalows located across the street.
Strategically situated between the tower and boutique hotel, a park-like plaza accommodates outdoor dining, casual gathering and people-watching. It’s one of several private pocket gardens on the property for guests and residents to use.
A further visual tie for the hotel’s three distinct components is the strategic display of a private art and sculpture collection of more than 350 pieces representing the past century.
The 34-story, 358,716 SF tower of 265 units was designed by Munoz + Albin, with common area interiors by Rottet Studio, which also handled the hotel, and landscape architect Robinson & Co.
Notably, the tower’s ground level contains two secured wings of 18 hotel suites with living rooms and small, private patios or balconies, or both.
The residences project is a joint venture between Hines, the Zimmerman family and TIAA Global Asset Management.
As part of the now completed work, hotel guests have access to the residential tower’s fitness center and pool, with sprawling views of downtown from its vantage point above Montrose Boulevard, two blocks south of Westheimer Road. Residents, meanwhile, may draw upon the hotel’s dining options at its Today & Tomorrow restaurant, expanded lounge and garden amenities.
Balancing the old and new as well as the divergent functions was the underlying challenge for the hotel and tower alike, said Dan Zimmerman, principal of La Colombe d’Or. “It needed to flow and combine as a campus.”
Toward that, the base of the tower has a more classic scale and presence as a backdrop to the shared spaces before rising into higher level modernity.
Elsewhere in the walkable neighborhood, buildings by such notable architects as I.M. Pei and Peter Camburas also draw the eye.
The Guest Book
On a recent showcase tour as staff readied for reopening, Zimmerman said the boutique hotel’s extensive do-over was a two-year painstaking process, led by Paradigm Design Innovations.
The project scope addressed three different full-service hotel experiences: the intimate five-suite mansion, the 18 more traditional tower rooms and the nine somewhat bohemian garden units grouped around a courtyard, re-imagined by Gin Design Group.
“It was important for us to offer a variety of accommodation types to suit the many needs of our guests,” Zimmerman had noted in project materials.
It was also important to adhere to the property’s historic landmark status.
The 1923 mansion was originally designed for the family of Walter W. Fondren (co-founder of Humble Oil, which became Exxon Mobil) by one of Houston’s go-to architects of the early 20thc., Albert Finn.
Prior to its purchase and subsequent hotel conversion more than 40 years ago by hotelier Steve Zimmerman, Dan Zimmerman’s father, the property had use by the American Red Cross, the Visiting Nurse Association and a school for mentally challenged children, the younger Zimmerman said.
During the recent redo, “We touched everything and we touched nothing.”
A Weave of Brickwork
Rather than gut the mansion interior to the studs, the renovation efforts worked with and around its Clue game-board of a room layout, thick plaster walls and gleaming oak woodwork.
It did so while boosting the structure’s hospitality functions, such as reinterpreting rooms for its restaurant, lounge and craft cocktail bar. The bar has been expanded and lightened up a bit by incorporating the former outdoor space of the property’s porte cochere. There, a subtle weave of original and new brickwork both preserves and highlights where the two eras meet, as does the full height window wall.
Another change is the small archway punched between lounge and bar for flow and access to new restrooms, but otherwise, the ground level retains its grand home bones. The timber-gridded ceiling in the dining room offsets a fresh, crisp color palette below.
Ditto in the former music room, where the decorative plasterwork delights in the changing light and shadows. As a nod to the building’s iconic green tile roof (and the heritage magnolia tree outside), the interior’s accent color remains green, deployed subtly in the common areas and with eye-popping punch in the bar.
In the entry, the massive grand staircase and its burnished balusters lead to the second level of five updated one-bedroom guest suites with marble- finished bathrooms. A former sixth suite has been rejiggered as a lounge with access to outdoor amenities below. (The former ballroom on the third floor, previously the hotel’s art gallery, is no longer accessible. Now, the art is everywhere.)
As with most renovations and construction, Zimmerman noted, the project took longer than expected, and then, having weathered a year of pandemic, the epic freeze hit just weeks before the reopening’s reveal.
Regardless, Zimmerman is ready to reintroduce the hotel to Houston and to travelers.
March 13, 2021 Realty News Report Copyright 2021
File: Hines. Mashup in Montrose Combines Classic and Contemporary