Blueplate PR client pod architecture + design (pod a+d), an award-winning design firm in Chapel Hill, NC, together with visionary real estate developer Gill Holland of Louisville, Kentucky, recently revealed plans for “The Devonian,” a 17,000-square-foot, post-pandemic, community hotel at 1614-24 Lytle Street in Louisville’s historic Portland neighborhood designed to serve local residents as well as travelers.
Unlike standard hotels and motels whose amenities are strictly for paying guests, Holland’s hospitality venture aims to include the Portland and greater Louisville area with indoor/outdoor spaces for community and special events. Along with the 25 small guest rooms, the Devonian will offer a heated courtyard swimming pool, a rooftop deck where Portland-based non-profits can host fundraisers, and easy access to the Louisville Visual Arts gallery next door, the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute, and live music and more at “fifteenTWELVE,” a creative compound on Portland Avenue. Also, The Devonian will be a block from the heralded Table Café, one block from the Waterfront Phase IV (being built now), and less than two miles from Norton Healthcare Sports and Learning Center.
“It’s crazy that there is not one hotel west of Ninth Street in Louisville, an area that, on its own, would be the fourth largest city in the state of Kentucky,” Holland said. “We typically do not announce any projects or partnerships until we have found the financing, but we need to find partners both to get this built and to operate it. So, we wanted to get the word out now that the permitting has been approved.”
Like most motels and motor lodges along the nation’s highways, The Devonian’s rooms will have open-air access rather than interior hallways, and an open, accessible lobby. Rooms overlooking the pool will face inward to provide privacy for guests and adjacent neighbors.
Established in 1811, Portland is an urban neighborhood northwest of downtown Louisville, located on the Falls of the Ohio River. Fossils discovered at the Falls date back 400 million years to the geological Devonian Period, an interval of the Paleozoic Era. Holland named his new-concept hotel “The Devonian” to honor that source of neighborhood pride.
Following Holland’s lead, pod a+d partners Douglas Pierson, AIA, and designer Youn Choi used abstractions of the fossil forms found in the area to establish tectonic geometries in the building itself: The exposed structure will feature geometric shapes and patterns visible in the corals discovered in the Ohio River’s limestone bed.
The Devonian’s specific context is also reflected in the architecture. Located at the threshold between Portland’s iconic warehouse/commercial district to the east and residential neighborhoods to the west, the building’s rugged modernist form, devoid of ornamentation, suggests the raw feel of an industrial warehouse while the glass-enclosed lobby and open roof deck recall porches and breezeways among Portland’s historic homes.
“The Devonian is a neighborhood compass that navigates regional pulls,” said Choi. “To the east, it focuses its view on the historic commercial streets and buildings. To the West, it is a landmark that acknowledges the transition from commercial to residential. To the North, it recognizes its pre-historic era. And to the South, it is an axis to placemaking spaces that are emerging in West Louisville neighborhoods.”
Doug Pierson and Gill Holland have worked together on other projects over the years, most notably The Green Building, a nationally acclaimed, thoroughly sustainable mixed-use commercial project in downtown Louisville that brought community pride back to a forgotten section of that city. The designers and developer hope The Devonian will do the same for the Portland community.
When financing is secured, Holland says construction should begin next spring.
For more information on pod architecture + design, visit www.podand.com.