At the historic Hotel LeVeque, celestial lighting illuminates modern design.

By Stef Schwalb

Some design projects naturally seem “dressed to impress,” with lighting as an accessory that can either make or break their outcome. Take for example Hotel LeVeque, an Autograph Collection by Marriott property located in downtown Columbus, Ohio. Constructed in 1927, the 47-story LeVeque Tower is a historic structure that showcases richly detailed, exceptional Art Deco style.

At the time it was built, this prominent landmark was the tallest building between Chicago and New York City, telling the world that this iconic Midwest city had become a modern destination undergoing tremendous growth.

Haute Hospitality Hotel

Custom-made for the project are the unique, abstract lighting fixtures designed to represent points of light in the night sky.

Fast forward to 2017 and the goal of combining these historical architectural features with contemporary, luxurious design was no easy feat. However, the interior design and branding teams at Chicago-based Gettys Group – a leading global hospitality design and development firm – was ready and enthusiastic to take up the challenge through their partnership with Rosemont, Ill.-based First Hospitality Group. I spoke with Senior Project Designer Ali Bacon for some insights on the widely recognized work, the result of which has seen Hotel LeVeque named as one of Architectural Digest’s Most Beautiful Hotels in America. The property has also been awarded the Branded Lifestyle Hotel Award by the Boutique and Lifestyle Lodging Association.

To highlight the Hotel LeVeque’s logo and tagline as a “beacon of hospitality,” and to make the hotel a more experiential stay for its guests, the lighting design needed to enhance the property’s theme and transcend it throughout the space. Seen as a “star” of the Columbus skyline, the Hotel LeVeque’s brand story and design needed to match seamlessly. The Gettys Group team brought these two elements of identity to life by pairing celestial and astrological themes with deep blues and dazzling golds — all reminiscent of colors found in the night sky.

The lighting fixtures were used to achieve a cohesive experience when the design was first being conceived and remained a touchstone throughout the project. The chosen fixtures not only emitted light, but also cast exquisite shadows.

Hotel LeVeque

“Lighting was very important to us. In the guestrooms – overhead lighting, which is not always seen in guestrooms – gave a residential feel and called to the celestial, star, and night sky concept,” Bacon explains. Through the custom ceiling feature, a twinkling star concept is produced utilizing acrylic stems.

The lobby fixture (a custom, starscape 20′-high chandelier that soars above the main seating area) was an abstracted constellation. Made out of metal in a custom Satin Brass finish, it was designed to represent points of light in the night sky. All fixtures – in the lobby as well as the guestrooms –
were carefully designed to convey a specific emotion throughout each space. “We were going for more of a residential feeling, so hand-crafted was key,” Bacon continues. “All of the fixtures were made overseas. Most of them were designed and selected to fit the overarching concept and took quite a while to make. It was a long lead time.”

That wasn’t the only challenge in combining the hotel’s history and modern day design into a cohesive brand story and look. Working with existing conditions was another. “There are many room types in the guestrooms because of this,” Bacon reveals. “That’s a challenge, but it’s also nice for the final outcome because it makes for non-typical guestrooms – the guest could end up in 30+ different types of King or Queen rooms – which also lends itself to feeling more residential from a layout perspective.” She noted, too, that the team had to keep some existing stone in the lobby. Most of the historic elements, Bacon adds, just help to enrich the overall story.

With the Gettys Group’s rich portfolio of design work, which includes a range of hotels and resorts around the globe, drawing inspiration from different types of lighting and time periods serves as an inspiration for the team’s creativity.

“I am personally inspired by residential lighting and period-specific lighting,” Bacon remarks. “Think, period-specific inspiration from FirstDibs. For the Hotel LeVeque, it was Art Deco and star and celestial fixtures that were the focus.”

For Bacon, this is an exciting time for the design industry in terms of evolution, and of course, lighting trends. “Everything is custom, and lighting design is truly integrated into the space and concept now,” she states. “Now lighting is being used to enhance the design, instead of just being a light fixture on the ceiling.” 