Gensler’s Interiors for Le Méridien Columbus, the Joseph
An art collector’s hotel need not be a gallery-style white box. “Art doesn’t have to be precious, even if it is precious. It’s meant to be lived with. You can do that at the Joseph,” Todd Heiser says of Le Méridien Columbus in Ohio. Working with the hotel brand’s global design director, Julie Frank, the Gensler principal spearheaded the project’s interiors alongside his colleague Carlos Martínez, principal and studio director, now based in New York.
Said collector and the owner of the Joseph is Ron Pizzuti. “When people say they have an amazing collection, you maybe expect a few pieces,” Heiser continues. “Ron took us to a warehouse that was like Candy Land for designers. There were one-off Eames chairs in Hella Jongerius fabrics as well as items by Studio Job. We were speechless.” Feeling inspired, Heiser and Martínez went to town, layering big-name designer, custom, and vintage pieces. “The aim was a curated home, not a curated museum,” Heiser notes, especially since the client already has the latter, the Pizzuti Collection, down the street.
Italianate and 19th century–style details reference the hotel’s location, which straddles the city’s Italian and Victorian Village neighborhoods. But it’s an artful interpretation of history, a creative bricolage, “so you don’t quite know if something is old or new,” Heiser says. The lobby’s fluted columns and Italian marble floor in a stacked-cube pattern are cases in point, the kind of idiosyncratic choices that can hold their own against the engaging artworks, from Nari Ward’s liquor sign by the bar to the commissioned lithographs by area artists in the 135 guest rooms. “We see it as part of a trend toward lifestyle centers,” Heiser says. “People are visiting these smaller cities, wanting to experience the local culture.” Pizzuti is happy to host.
Gensler: Jessica Gracey; Lisa Hibler; Matt Wolfe. Hotel Design Architect: Arquitectonica. Architect of Record: Elness Swenson Graham Architects. Lighting Consultant, Structural Engineer, MEP: KLH Engineers. Graphics Consultant: Almond Zigmund. Purchasing Agent: Carroll Adams Group. General Contractor: Brasfield & Gorrie.