Background and Context
A landmark and visual icon, the U.S. Grant Hotel, has been a piece of San Diego history for over a century. Constructed and opened in 1910, the Grant Hotel was designed by architect Harrison Albright and financed in part by San Diego voters. Throughout its long history the hotel has attracted an eclectic range of visitors – from businessmen, sailors and military officials in its early years to tourists and Comic-Con attendees today. After changing hands several times in the 1990’s, the Hotel was eventually purchased by the Sycuan Band of the Kumeyaay Nation and operated by Starwood Hotels and Resorts as part of their Luxury Collection.
For this Luxury Collection property in the heart of San Diego’s Gaslamp District, JCJ designed and detailed 270 guest rooms, 47 suites, a lobby, two restaurants, a ballroom and a meeting room. With an early 1900’s space plan, the layout of each guest room is unique and modest in size when compared to contemporary hotel standards. The JCJ team was charged with design that would revitalize the Hotel’s historic French Colonial style,while updating it with a clean, open, modern interiors concept.
Many of the historic features were ‘grandfathered in’ by code and the team worked with the owner to understand expectations and historic elements to be prioritized. Design features such as the old elevators, columns and lighting gave the hotel a unique and luxurious feel and were identified as having to take priority in design and budget. Experts in theatrical lighting design joined the team and attended weekly, on site meetings with the architect, project managers, and hotel managers.
In addition to highlighting the historic features, the owner decided to embrace and incorporate modern art by commissioning a French Artist, Yves Clement, to create abstract paintings on site. The design team worked with the artist to blend modern and historic features by utilizing elements such as furniture and color and materials such as tile, wood, carpet and fabric.
It was an honor to complete such an iconic renovation for the US Grant, San Diego. The renovated hotel brings a boost to the Broadway Corridor. At night, the façade acts as a beacon, the exterior lighting is continuously changing and the interior lives up to the expected grandeur.
The project was completed at a unique moment for JCJ Architecture. Formerly Wheeler Wimer Blackman, JCJ’s San Diego Office was brought on to provide design and construction administration services approximately one year prior to the team formally joining JCJ Architecture. During this merger, the team worked diligently to maintain existing relationships with the Sycuan Band of Kumeyaay Indians and to provide exceptional service to the Starwood, Luxury Collection and the US Grant Hotel.