Alas, as newspapers around the world are slipping into irrelevance, even those that survive are selling their buildings.
Usually, they’re located on prime downtown property.
Philadelphia, Richmond and Raleigh are recent examples. And in Rotterdam, when an influential socialist paper of record folded a few years back, its building first found a few young tenants – then went vacant.
Now it’s revitalized as the 78-room, boutique SLAAK Hotel, grafted onto Modernist roots from the 1950s – an optimistic, Post WWII time of rebuilding the city after massive carpet-bombing by the Nazis.
“I would say there was an amazing hope in the 1950s after the war, to build back society and create a free future,” says Vahid Kiumarsi, partner at HDVL Design Makers. “You see that in the colors and patterns.”
HDVL tapped into those colors – mostly grays and greens – adding a sparkle here and there where appropriate. “The green tones became the theme for the wallpaper, carpet and furnishings,” he says. “Then we added some brass finishes, especially in the bar, to give it a shiny finish in contrast with the gray and the green.”
The designers walked a fine line – respecting the newspaper building while creating a hotel. They were careful not to repeat the 1950s, but to take their cues from that forward-looking time period, now long gone. “We went back to the 1950s and wanted to get inspired – not by replicating it, but getting into it,” he says.
Now the open space on its ground level invites neighbors back in – just as the newspaper once did. “Two months since the opening, the restaurant and bar are really popular,” he says. “You see a lot of Rotterdam in the building – they come here and really like it.”
As for the newspaper end of things, that’s illuminated in guest rooms, once offices for staff. “We wanted to create space where the guest is like an editor,” he says. “We invite them to read or write and be productive as a consumer – and be part of the socialist movement of the times.”
And why not? During these days of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, anybody can be an editor, right?
Just ask the current occupant of the White House.
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