In June 2008 a destructive flood swept through Cedar Rapids. Hundreds of homes and businesses were lost including 300 city owned buildings and some of the city’s most prominent public structures. Following the flood, the City of Cedar Rapids a faced an almost overwhelming road to recovery. One of the properties damaged in the flood was the existing downtown arena and hotel. Located in the heart of downtown, it was critical that the arena and hotel be restored to full functionality. Civic leaders turned to OPN Architects to chart a course forward out of the devastation.
In 2013, the City of Cedar Rapids celebrated the opening of the Cedar Rapids Convention Complex following a dramatic capital improvement and two-year renovation. The new Cedar Rapids Convention Complex consists of three interrelated facilities: 1) New convention center; 2) Renovated arena and 3) Redesigned hotel. OPN was the architect-of-record for all three facilities and served as the lead designers for the renovation of the hotel.
The challenge for the design team was turning an existing, dated hotel into sophisticated urban destination. The team had limited options for expansion, a conservative budget and a very tight schedule. The project called for the entire building to be updated including the hotel’s 267 guestrooms, all public and back of house spaces and the mechanical, electrical and security systems.
The team approached the project with the goal of creating a luxurious, boutique-hotel feeling. In keeping with Hilton’s exacting design standards, the upscale, full-service hotel features a contemporary design aesthetic and luxury furnishings, including sleek glass elements, and original sculptures and artwork throughout the lobby and public areas. Designed to accommodate any event need – from major industry meetings to weddings – the hotel’s ballrooms feature acoustic ceiling tiles that emulate a river’s flow. Each tile is outfitted with fiber optic technology to allow the lighting to be programed to enhance the palette of an event. On the sixteenth floor, the hotel’s restaurant 350 First, offers fine dining and expansive views of downtown and the Cedar River.