Massachusetts' first Cambria offers New England flair

Late last year, Choice Hotels International brought its Cambria brand to Massachusetts with Boston-based owner City Point Capital. Local architecture firm Rode Architects designed the Cambria Hotel Boston, Downtown-South Boston to blend in with the surrounding neighborhood, overseeing the full exterior, rooftop bar and all elements of the interior design–lobby, event space and guestrooms.

“We’ve been living and working in this neighborhood for 15 years and are excited to see this hotel reach completion,” said Kevin S. Deabler, principal and co-founder of Rode Architects. “Cambria Hotel Downtown-South Boston highlights our firm’s ability to develop and bring concept to life through a cohesive exterior and interior design while respecting the surrounding neighborhood.”

“The building taps into the architectural language of the Fort Point neighborhood, leading to simple but confident moves in familiar concrete, brick and wood beam textures,” said Jessica Haley, associate/head of interiors at Rode Architects. “By giving unique twists to established designs, the hotel fits in harmony, while also giving a new architectural flair to the neighborhood.”

Academic Inspiration

In designing the new Cambria, Rode worked to curate a Boston-specific character, referencing the architectural language of South Boston and the Fort Point with concrete, brick and wood textures, then layering on references to nature and the region’s contributions to literature and academia. Light and nature appear as engaging, active elements applied in a simple, refined palette of high-contrast shadows traced over solid forms and accented by emerald greens. 

The personality of New England and its many colleges and universities is represented by the occasional touch of an inspirational quote or a fixture inspired by classic reading rooms, meant to establish an intellectual presence that connects to history and inspires travelers. Antique books, 20th-century typewriters, marble finishes and shades of green throughout the lobby, restaurant and bar celebrate the libraries and institutions of higher learning throughout the region. Charred-wood wall finishing and a felt wall in the lobby evoke academia, while lighting fixtures were inspired by reading room task lighting. 

Interiors, Exteriors

Based on a concept design by Minneapolis-based VJAA, the form of the building reflects Boston’s irregular street grid with folding planes and geometries that spotlight the surrounding urban bustle. Rode’s design uses a floor-to-ceiling glass curtainwall throughout the main public spaces of the hotel. Stone flooring in the lobby and at the sidewalk draws a visual continuity between interior and exterior spaces. 

The hotel has two unique installations inside: Rode collaborated with London-based artist Simon Heijdens to bring his Lightweeds installation of light-projected tree-forms to the hotel’s common spaces, providing an interactive experience for guests that replicates each of Boston’s distinct seasons. The firm also collaborated with Yellow Goat Design to create a custom chandelier inspired by the weeping willows of Boston’s Public Garden. The chandelier has more than 1,200 leaf "elements" suspended from a 16-foot-long armature, hanging 16 feet high against the glass curtainwall of the lobby.

The hallways, meanwhile, have a customized carpet that presents the twisting silhouetted lines of tree branches, which transitions to the dappled light of a leafy canopy in the guestrooms.

The hotel's 159 guestrooms have an integrated bed and nightstand with leather binding and brass detailing, while exposed raw concrete ceilings and columns celebrate the industrial heritage of the region. Each guestroom is decorated with quotes from famous New England literature such as "The Scarlet Letter" and "The Bell Jar," and master Massachusetts-based storytellers including Henry David Thoreau, Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson.

Public spaces include a rooftop restaurant with views of downtown, Back Bay, Dorchester, South Boston, Seaport and Boston Harbor; a 2,400-square-foot fitness center; and a 200-person event space.