an artful stay
Visitors to Houston who want to stay within the Medical Center or those Houstonians looking for a wellness staycation close to the Museum District have a new artful alternative with the recent opening of the 273-guest room, luxury hotel, the Westin Houston Medical Center.
Instead of building new, Houston-based hotel developers Pearl Hospitality renovated and restored the midcentury modern 1954 Medical Towers building located at 1709 Dryden Rd. The historic landmark first designed by Houston architectural firm Golemon & Rolfe with Pritzker prize-winning architect Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore Owings & Merrill (SOM) as a modified version of SOM’s 1952 Lever Houston in New York was originally used as an office building for medical professionals.
A state-of-the-art transformation
“In real estate, location is everything and this newly redeveloped full city block is central, unique, convenient and cannot be duplicated,” said William R. Franks, a member of Pearl Hospitality’s development team in a statement on the opening. “What was once an underutilized old office building, has been transformed into the most modern, state-of-the-art hotel in the Houston Medical Center, which adds tremendous value for the City of Houston.”
“A big part of our goal was to preserve the history of the building which was so important to the city of Houston,” explained Archit Sanghvi, vice president of operations for Pearl Hospitality at a recent preview of the boutique hotel.
The design features natural light in all the public areas on the fifth level pavilion, which acts as an epicenter for the whole hotel. On the fifth floor guests check in, can find the outdoor pool, and 8,000-square-foot ballroom, Terrace 54 Bar + Table with outdoor seating, and two outdoor terraces overlooking the Medical Center. From the poolside terrace guests can also get a stunning view of the Rice University campus.
Nestled in the Medical Center, the hotel wants to weave wellness into guests’ stays. The decor features elements of nature in the design, and hard wood floors in all the guest rooms. It also boasts a 3000-square-foot fitness center with a weekly run club and they plan to hold terrace yoga classes and events in the spring.
“The hospitality side of wellness is a common thread throughout the hotel,” described Sanghvi, in an earlier statement. “Not only because of our location in the Texas Medical Center, but because of our vision for each guest who walks through our doors: we want to nourish their mind, body and spirit.”
A treat for the eyes
Houston, national, and international art lovers coming to stay can also indulge in treats for the eyes. The skylights on the fifth level pavilion were inspired by the James Turrell major artworks across the city, especially the Skyspace on the Rice campus.
Guests can also view the hotel’s own curated art collection, with works chosen for to bring art and color to the already innovative architecture but to also reflect Houston’s diversity.
The collection features the works of several Houston native and based artists including: muralist Sebastien “Mr. D” Boileau, Houston-born photographer Gary Griffin, abstract and mixed media painter Edgar Medina, Taft McWhorter, and Marthann Masterson who drips paint to create her “Joy”ful piece. Angela Fabbri’s playful and bright “Bloom Big” living artwork, a mix of graphics and painted plant boxes, is specifically installed backwards for optimum selfie taking.
As CultureMap reported last year, down at the street level the Westin building will and has already opened up the dining selection in the Medical Center with “veritable fast casual utopia,” including MOD Pizza, Roti Modern Mediterranean, Poke in the Bowl, Antone’s, JuiceLand, and SusieCakesSusieCakes’ homestyle desserts.