Blending history with style, The Watermark Hotel Baton Rouge combines classic charm with modern comfort, inviting guests on a unique journey through time and luxury.
Built in 1925 as the Louisiana National Bank and later reimagined as the State Office Building in the 1960s, this exceptional architectural gem has undergone a transformative journey to emerge as the Watermark Hotel, a distinctive addition to Marriott’s prestigious Autograph Collection. Embracing its historical roots while embracing modern luxury, the hotel offers an enchanting experience that bridges the gap between past and present.
The designers at Gensler have masterfully intertwined different epochs – from the exuberant 1920s to the vivacious 1960s – to craft a captivating narrative that infuses the ambiance with vitality. This artful fusion seamlessly combines the opulent allure of Art Deco, the timeless elegance of Mid-Century design, and the sleek refinement of contemporary elements.
At the heart of The Watermark Hotel, the fusion of history and innovation comes to life. The bas-relief murals by acclaimed Louisiana artist Angela Gregory, adorning the former bank lobby, have been meticulously preserved. Now gracing the space that houses the hotel’s Southern-American restaurant and the inviting full-service bar, aptly named The Gregory, these evocative artworks pay homage to the region’s heritage, inspiring the creation of spaces that transcend time.
Upon crossing the threshold into The Watermark Hotel, guests embark on a captivating journey through the ages. The lobby’s inviting colour palette – an artful blend of spearmint, slate, and caramel – extends a warm welcome, setting the stage for a truly immersive experience. The entrance itself serves as a portal into Louisiana’s cultural legacy, where lenticular displays vividly depict modern interpretations of the state’s iconic figures. From Napoleon and Lady Liberty donning Mardi Gras masks to the depiction of Thomas Jefferson accompanied by the revered brown pelican, these displays encapsulate Louisiana’s rich history in a single, mesmerizing glimpse.
Deeply rooted in its banking origins, The Watermark Hotel pays meticulous attention to detail, exemplified by its very name. The term “Watermark” conjures images of the distinctive imprints found on currency notes, a nod to the financial history that once thrived within these walls. This homage is extended further, as guestroom doors bear replicated designs reminiscent of vault entrances, complete with antique safe dials that transport guests to a bygone era.
Elegant Art Deco brass grills gracefully encircle lobby desks, mirroring the elegance of teller screens, offering guests a captivating immersion into the world of banking aesthetics. Safety deposit box graphics tastefully grace the wine wall of the private dining room, a subtle nod to the building’s storied financial past. Even the basement meeting rooms, each thoughtfully named – The Founder’s Room, The Depository, and the pièce de résistance, The Vault – embody a palpable sense of history, with the latter featuring a bespoke vault door.
The Watermark Hotel Baton Rouge stands as a triumphant testament to design innovation, harmoniously intertwining the threads of history and modernity. Gensler’s commitment to honouring the building’s rich heritage while seamlessly incorporating contemporary elements has birthed an unparalleled destination. This seamless interplay of eras and layers of history offer an experience that defies convention, inviting guests to embark on an extraordinary cultural journey. With each detail thoughtfully capturing the essence of Baton Rouge, The Watermark Hotel is not just an architectural marvel; it is a beacon of luxury, an homage to tradition, and an open invitation to indulge in an unparalleled sojourn into the past and present.
Project: The Watermark Hotel
Location: Virginia, U.S.A
Design Studio: Gensler
Photo Credits: Eye Wander Photography