‘Midnight in Paris’ at Omaha’s Cottonwood Hotel

General / People / Places / June 8, 2022

The interior demolition of what’s now the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel in Omaha, Neb. yielded a treasure trove of early 20th-century finishes.

The hotel started out as the Blackstone Hotel in 1916, in what’s now known as Omaha’s Blackstone District.

It would be converted to offices in the 1980s. When that happened, the interiors weren’t gutted – just covered over.

So in 2017, when Green Slate Developers began a demo to return the E-shaped structure to its original intent as a hotel, they were pleasantly surprised.

“They found the original architecture covered by drywall for the office building, and all of it was usable, including the original floors and detailing that was hand-done,” says Kristen Kordecki, Commercial Projects Director at LS Group. “The lobby was marble, and covered with drywall, and the floor is all original.”

LS Group is a lighting company that specializes in residential and commercial work. Kordecki is in the company’s Denver office, focusing on hospitality projects. For the Cottonwood, she worked hand-in-glove with interior designers from the DLR group on decorative lighting as well as the team from USAI lighting on architectural lighting – and with architects from Leo A Daly on the overall look and feel of the lighting.

Her clients, big fans of the film “Midnight in Paris,” sought lighting that mimicked its ethos. “The client loved being transported back in time with the lighting of that movie, and the transition to that super-warm, vintage, fireside feeling in Paris,” she says. “That was the key inspiration for creating a narrative for the project.”

The architects too were playing off the color palette from the film, and Kordecki obliged them. “We specified different color temperatures, depending on how the owner wanted the space to feel,” she says. “It’s warmer in the steakhouse – amber for nostalgia, and on the eighth-floor ballroom, there’s modern-day lighting, while the meeting rooms’ lighting are the coolest.”

In the bar for the Cottonwood Room, she worked from a black-and-white, vintage photograph from 1916, with some technological updates. “We’re projecting a lot of light onto the wall, with images that change and modernize it,” she says.

Still, it’s got an authentic 1920s vibe – a place where Hemingway, Dali, Man Ray, Picasso, Gertrude Stein and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald would feel right at home, martini in hand.

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Michael Welton
I write about architecture, art, and design for national and international publications. I am the author of "Drawing from Practice: Architects and the Meaning of Freehand" (Routledge, 2015), and the former architecture critic for the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C.




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