Topeka, Kansas is not a city often associated with a buzzy hotel scene. Even so, it has played an important role in shaping the U.S., as both a corridor to the Midwest and a central transportation hub. In fact, Cyrus Holliday, a Union colonial who fought in the Civil War, put Topeka on the map by bringing the Santa Fe Railroad to the Kansas capital. He was the perfect namesake for Aparium Hotel Group’s Cyrus Hotel, the hotel company’s latest venture that mixes both historic buildings with a new-build tower.
Julie Purpura, owner and design director of Chicago’s Avenir Creative, channeled Holliday’s spirit when concepting the property, opting for a charming yet eclectic design that reinterpreted Federalist-style architecture through a modern lens. With that in mind, symmetry, repetition of straight lines, and elegant curves abound, especially in the contoured lobby bar and the geometric lights peppered throughout.
Despite a limited budget, Purpura fostered a sense of intimacy with cozy seating enclaves in the lobby dressed up in blue, teal, and red (based on the Union soldiers’ uniforms from the Civil War), as well as in the 109 spacious guestrooms by painting the rooms in two tones. Tufted niche headboard walls—a nod to the Santa Fe railcar—were built “so lying in bed, guests would feel snug,” she says. Artwork plays an important role as well, much of it a love letter to Cyrus and his wife, Mary Dillon Jones. “We wanted to represent their [close] relationship with images of couples and the silhouette of a man and a woman,” she says.
Clever nods to Kansas lore also abound. The wallcovering behind the front desk, for instance, emulates the prominent Kansas clouds. “The sky seems bigger there because you’re in the plains,” she says. Likewise, the aptly named Weather Room restaurant refers to a favorite Kansas pastime. “People like to talk about the weather and that’s what inspired the design,” she says. Prairie hues, both muted and bright, are represented in olive and emerald green furnishings, while the “stunning” wallcovering represents those well-known swirling winds. Its pattern was “too good to pass up,” she admits. So were the miniature U.S. president figurines Purpura found in a vintage store that now stand guard in the lobby bar. “They looked like they would all be friends with Cyrus,” she says, “so why wouldn’t I buy them?”
From: Hospitality Design