07 Jan Western Landmark: An Artistic Enterprise
When you’re a trustee of New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, you know a thing or two about art. So when Philip Maritz put together his plan for The Ameswell Hotel in Mountain View, California, his vision to infuse contemporary paintings, sculptures, and photographs into the experience was natural. “More importantly,” says Maritz, the lead owner and developer, “I felt a major art focus — properly curated — could be a major customer attraction.” Silicon Valley is both sophisticated and worldly, Maritz says, “but traditionally not particularly art-focused.”
As a seasoned collector, Maritz is hoping The Ameswell Hotel will shift that public perception. The property opened in July 2021 with 20 world-class art installations that draw upon outer space and aviation as central themes. The hotel’s moniker pays homage to NASA’s Ames Research Center located nearby, and “well” emphasizes wellness.
The intersection of art, health, and sustainability begins upon arrival at the 255-room property. HYBYCOZO created a 10-foot-high powder-coated steel sculpture that stands in front of the hotel and points skyward. At night, blue runway lights — the same ones used on airport tarmacs — illuminate the driveway. The hotel’s glass doors open to reveal a coil of concentric circles that morph into different colors; lit with LED lights, Three Circles by artist Chul Hyun Ahn is so vivid that its glow is visible from outside.
Inside the hotel, art installations appear on the main floor inside the Hangar One Art Gallery, named after the nearby blimp hangar at NASA, one of the largest free-standing structures ever built. According to Maritz, the art curated throughout the hotel was commissioned and acquired from galleries and art fairs. In addition, Sweeney Co. Art Advisors was instrumental in helping the hotel to curate its collection.
Nestled on a quiet road with an unpretentious exterior, the horizontal, flat-topped building rises five stories at its tallest. White and walnut-hued finishes made of limestone cement, porcelain tile, anodized aluminum, and weathered and stained zinc panels blend into the landscape adjacent to the Google building on the same parcel. However, the innovative interior remains unmatched by any other hotel in town. Elements of surprise pop everywhere. On the reception level, recycled wood panels suspended above cement floors form the wooden “cloud” ceiling. At the Roger Bar and Restaurant, busboy robots (yes, robots) cart dirty dishes to the kitchen.
Another showstopper: the Ames Library. Maritz personally worked with Shana Lopes, assistant curator of photography at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, to hand-select books and trinkets that reference flight. Unforgettable pieces include: a cement astronaut lamp, a vintage photo of aviator Amelia Earhart, and a circular section of a Mercedes jet turbine turned into a mirror.
Not to be missed is the lobby gathering room with couches forming a semi-circle. The space gains privacy from drapery stitched with silver reflective tabs the size of paint chips. Inside, a seven-panel video installation by artist Chris Doyle spans two walls. The display of moving birds and trees loops every seven and a half minutes. “Our goal was to create spaces that are flexible without being disorganized, beautiful without being precious, and purposeful without being pretentious,” says Michael Booth, principal at BAMO, which oversaw the hotel’s design.
Meanwhile, wellness is taken so seriously that each guestroom possesses individual hospital-grade air filters so that no two rooms share the same air. Water piped into the hotel is filtered and filtered again at hydration stations. Walls have been built to a premium standard of industrial soundproofing. A Wellness Wing features guestrooms equipped with fitness gear and Lululemon exercise mirrors that project fitness coaches in action. According to Keith Battaglia, director of sales and marketing, compared to other hotels, “we are spending extra money, and it’s worth it.”
Bespoke opulence kicks in with snow white bedding and thick mattresses. Doe gray carpets and curtains evoke calm. High-end hot water kettles are an indulgent touch. The desktop is tapered to the shape of an airplane wing, reminding guests of the area’s history. A wallpaper treatment of ocean blue circles and the occasional pumpkin sofa add whimsy.
Meanwhile, the LEED Silver-certified building strives toward sustainability with rooftop solar panels and drought tolerant plantings. The hotel’s paved bike path leads to a network of county trails.
Maritz is confident visitors will delight in the outcome of his passion project. Crafting a luxe hotel from the ground up, emphasizing sustainability and wellness with an unforgettable art collection, has taken seven long years. “We hope the effect [of the art] is a positive distraction,” he says, “an inspiration and perhaps even a stimulus or curiosity because, in addition to formal beauty, virtually every piece has a story of its inception and creation that is unexpected.”