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Online Exclusive - Inn at the Presidio, San Francisco

Sep 4, 2012

By Ashleigh VanHouten; photography by David Wakely

Talk about a hotel with history: built in 1903 in San Francisco’s Presidio national park, Pershing Hall originally served as bachelor officers’ quarters for the U.S. Army. Local firm Architectural Resources Group specializes in historic preservation, and the team—led by principal Stephen Farneth and senior associate Deborah Cooper—undertook a full rehabilitation of the building into a 17-suite bed and breakfast called Inn at the Presidio for the owner, the Presidio Trust. Says Cooper, “It was about creating a sense of place that spoke to the history of the site but that was really fresh and new.”

The building is LEED Gold certified, an accomplishment Cooper says is due in large part to retaining “close to ninety-nine percent of the original building envelope and about seventy percent of the original interior.” Coal-burning fireplaces were replaced with gas-burning ones, and the hotel also boasts an onsite bio-retention pond to capture rainwater.

Farneth notes, “It looks like it was an easy project, but it took a lot of effort to make it look that easy. The biggest thing was accepting the original concept for the building: two-room suites with a small bathroom. Once we embraced that, it all fell into place.” He adds that they were able to convert the basement into two meeting rooms with impressive daylight and ceiling height, resulting in “tremendous revenue and utility for the building.”

The design goal of the interiors, says Stanford Hughes of San Francisco-based BraytonHughes Design Studio, who was charged with updating the interiors, was to create a family-oriented inn that speaks to both the park and urban experiences. “We didn’t want anything thematic, we didn’t want it to be replica of anything.” He points to the walls and ceilings, which were done in different sheens of bright white and historic doors were painted in a high-gloss black for “an almost black-and-white photograph effect.” This is complemented by rich leather and a warm canvas-hued palette throughout for a subtle nod to the hotel’s military roots.

A focus on local artisans, found objects, and repurposed and recycled materials speaks to the inn’s authenticity. Cozy bathrooms feature foldable campaign desks made of PaperStone and mirrors with embossed wood grain. Art consultant Julie Coyle assisted with curating an impressive collection of pieces offered throughout the hotel, including nature-inspired works by local artists, a wall of actual war-era bugles, and digitized images from the Presidio archives. The lobby chandeliers, too, were found in storage and rewired: “You’ll never see a chandelier like this anywhere else in the world,” Hughes says.

hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



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