Photography by Andrea Matarrese
October 18 2015
The Quirk Hotel, the newest addition to Richmond’s bustling Broad Street, is nothing if not charming. Already poised to become a cultural hub of Richmond’s burgeoning art’s district, the hotel is a showcase of contemporary art from many of the same artists that cofounder Katie Ukrop worked with since 2005 in her role as director of the hotel’s first incarnation, Quirk Gallery.
The hotel was the brainchild of Ted and Katie Ukrop, whose family has owned the nearly 100 year old Italianate building since 1997. Originally designed by architects Starrett and Van Vleck, and built to house J.B. Mosby and Co. dry-goods store, the soaring limestone groin-arches and wrought iron touches felt much grander than the offices and residences that occupied the space when the Ukrops first began dreaming of opening a hotel. Working with a team of architects and designers from 3north and Poesis, they devised and executed a design plan which carefully balances the building’s historic elements, the structure remains a Virginia Historic Landmark, with the modern sensibilities of Quirk Gallery. The original-to-the-building milk-glass and brass pendants are reflected in a palette of rich metals, calm grays and warm pinks. A sloped glass facade devised by 3north cascades into a multi-use courtyard that opens to both the gallery and adjoining lobby, which is flooded with light thanks to the story high arched windows that served as loading docks during the buildings previous life as a dry-goods retailer.
The Ukrops hope with the hotel was not only to bring visitors to their beloved city, but to bring the city to its visitors. It seems that every detail of the hotel was the result of a collaboration with local artisans and craftspeople. The very first detail many visitors note, an elegantly lettered sign, was done by local signpainter Surehand Signs, whose technique would not have been out of place when the building first opened at the turn of the century. Nearby is a coffee and espresso bar supplied by local favorite Blanchard’s, behind which hangs Susie Ganch’s Pile, an undulating abstraction created by thousands of coffee lids the artist and current VCU professor collected from four local coffee shops. The hotel’s public spaces are awash with a collection of exuberant and beautiful work from artists such as Chris Milk and Aimee Joyaux.
The first floor is also home to Maple & Pine, Chef David Dunlap’s take on classic American cuisine (we are big fans of the Fried Chicken.) The restaurant itself is cinematically beautiful, it’s not hard to imagine a meeting between stylish spies at the marble top bar, or the key moment of some romantic affair taking place amidst the serpentine embankments.
Upstairs, the hotel is home to 74 uniquely designed guest rooms. Guests are greeted at each floor by a portrait of the canine variety by artist Sarah Hand. The rooms are designed to fit one of two themes, the one side done up in the warm tones of Love & Happiness, and the other in the the calming shades of Grey Owl. As a part of their commitment to integrating art into every detail of the hotel, each guest room features a unique combination of art pieces, right down to the hand crafted ice buckets by Tina Frey and the hand embroidered pillows of Shelly Klein. All of the rooms feature furnishings crafted by Robert Bristow of Poesis in his Connecticut studio from a variety of materials including wood reclaimed from the building itself.
It is difficult to introduce all the details of the hotel without coming off like a bulleted list of features recounted in a travel pamphlet. But it is this acute attention to detail that will no doubt be the key to success for newly minted hoteliers Ted and Katie Ukrop. We are especially excited to follow the development of their artist in residency program, which has already fostered beautiful works on paper by artist Leigh Suggs (On view in the mezzanine). Their continuing commitment to the development and display of local talent is admirable, and is nothing but good news for the local contemporary art scene. Hopefully it also means that the hotel will continue to serve as a cultural center for the city, and in so doing will introduce visitors to our ever-beloved, if hard to know, Richmond.
For more information, you can visit the Quirk Hotel online, or drop on by Broad and Jefferson to visit the Hotel and Gallery in person.