May 2016 21C Museum Tour

May 21c Museum Hotel Tour and Tyler’s Social

By Susannah Barringer, LEED AP BD+C

Wednesday, May 18th marked the day for IFMA Triangle’s tour of Durham’s legendary 21C Museum Hotel. Multiple tour groups were led from the $1,200-per-night penthouse suite all the way down to the original subterranean bank vaults which remain mostly intact today. Designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon (same architects of the Empire State Building) the 17-story building’s 2-year-long construction was completed in 1937. It originally served as Durham Bank and Trust and Ellis-Stone Department Store until the mid-1960s when it became the CCB Bank/SunTrust. In 2007, the building was purchased by Greenfire Development and with the intent to turn it into a boutique hotel. The renovation, completed in 2015, was also a 2-year construction schedule. Many of the building’s original architectural elements remain intact such as the terrazzo floors, the pecan wood paneling in the bank teller room (now the “ballroom”), windows, and security features. The space now boasts 125 guest rooms, 10,500 square feet of gallery space, multiple meeting/event rooms, a gym, spa and the aptly named “Counting House” lounge and restaurant. The one cohesive element seen throughout every single room in the building? Contemporary art. And lots of it! Not surprisingly, the 21C franchise, owned by Kentucky-based bourbon heiress, Laura Lee Brown and husband Steve Brown, have a passion for art and for revitalizing historic “main street” buildings. They love to exhibit the work of local and international artists in a way that elicits an emotion from the viewer. For instance, Angela Ellsworth’s Sister Wives sculpture is displayed prominently in the lobby and features two beautiful pearlescent bonnets that, upon closer look, are actually lined with needles.

After the fascinating tour, the GTC of IFMA tour groups made their way to Tyler’s Taproom for happy hour, which was generously sponsored by GreenView Partners and Sparkkles.