The Fayette National Bank building in Lexington, Ky., has been reborn as a new boutique hotel. The 88-room 21c Lexington is 21c Museum Hotels’ fifth property, and is housed in what was Lexington’s first skyscraper.
Construction on the property began in June 2014, though 21c had its sights on the building for some time before that. New York-based architects Deborah Berke Partners worked with Pittsburgh-based executive architect Perfido Weiskopf Wagstaff Goettel to make sure the building’s original features were preserved. The contemporary aspects of the hotel’s design were combined with the building’s restored Ionic order exterior columns, marbled walls, Tennessee pink marble flooring and vaulted ceilings decorated in ornamental plaster patterns.
In fact, it was the urging of Jim Gray, now the mayor of Lexington, that sowed 21c’s interest in the building.
“The design is inspired by the colors and textures of the Kentucky landscape, the building’s historical features and the contemporary art we showcase,” said Andrew Carter, GM of the 21c Lexington.
And the property is impossible to talk about without mentioning the art it houses. The hotel has more than 7,000 square feet of museum exhibition space that is integrated seamlessly into the property, and is free of charge and open to the public. Featured art exhibitions are site-specific and rotating, and include works from both well-known and emerging artists.
This attention to art is very much at the forefront of the 21c brand. The company was founded by contemporary art collectors and preservationists Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson, with the goal of becoming a cultural center in each of the destinations their hotels are located. The Lexington property has six permanent site-specific art installations integrated into a number of areas around and within the property, from lights animated by the weather and shifting desert sand inside a table to images of polished brass embedded directly in the hotel floor.
On top of that, the hotel’s museum moonlights as meeting and events space, accommodating up to 350 people. The hotel is also home to the Lockbox restaurant, which serves cuisine inspired by the local flavors of Lexington. Led by executive chef Jonathan Searle, the restaurant provides open views of the kitchen, and is overlooked by Tomorrow’s Weather, an art installation by Stockholm-based duo Biegert & Bergström that changes color depending on the weather forecast for the following day.
The hotel also offers a number of guestroom options, all with high ceilings, custom furnishings, contemporary art and an emphasis on natural light. The property offers five suites, including the 21c Suite, which has two living areas and a separate dining area with a table for six; and the Skylight Suite, which has a large skylight above the main living area that fills the room with natural light.
"Much more than just a place to spend the night, 21c is a union of genuine hospitality, thoughtful design and culinary creativity," Carter said. "We’re hopeful that 21c serves as a cultural catalyst that will spark creativity, reinvention and continued development in downtown Lexington."