Good Bones: 5G Studio converts a former coffin factory into an edgy NYLO boutique hotel on Dallas’ south side.

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By Megan Krause

exposed wall

The exposed wall, column and concrete floor in NYLO South Side's library lounge are juxtaposed with eclectic furnishings and a major splash of pink, an energizing color designers used strategically throughout the hotel. Photo: Courtesy of 5G Studio

For its third Dallas-area location, edgy boutique brand NYLO Hotels tried something decidedly different on the city's south side. While NYLO's locales in Plano and Las Colinas sport a sleek, modern look, the brand's latest hotel features an industrial aesthetic that reflects its building's former life as the home of the Dallas Coffin Co. and other business uses during a century-plus
of existence.

The new 76-key hotel is part of a larger arts and entertainment complex that developer Matthews Southwest is creating on the former site of a massive Sears, Roebuck & Co. warehouse and retail complex in downtown Dallas. "I was genuinely inspired by both Matthews Southwest and NYLO's love for the 'found object' and the idea of its importance in a space today," says Tiffany Axner, a designer at 5G Studio, the Dallas-based firm hired by the developer to oversee the building's conversion. "Compared to previous NYLO Hotels, which have a more contemporary vibe, NYLO Dallas South Side was designed to embrace a past time period."

rooftop

A rooftop deck was built to support a new pool and bar overlooking the city. Photo: Courtesy of 5G Studio

Michael Mueller, NYLO Hotels' president and ceo, says it was Matthews Southwest's overarching vision that made this spot just south of Interstate 30 on South Lamar Street the perfect home for NYLO's latest locale (which is also the brand's first conversion property). "What Matthews Southwest has created here, and its vision for the future of South Side, makes it an ideal location," says Mueller.

In converting the building—which had sat vacant for more than a decade—NYLO wanted to borrow inspiration from the up-and-coming area by creating a hotel that would speak to the locals, as well as to visitors. "This is a growing and vibrant area of downtown and the crowd is an interesting demographic, as they tend to be well-educated, artistically sophisticated and economically diverse," explains Scott Lowe, 5G Studio's managing partner. "So the design challenge was being sensitive to the unique culture of the area."

As a former factory, designers say the five-story building had "good bones," being made mostly out of steel, concrete and brick. Axner says those materials "won't ever age a building and blend seamlessly with most new construction, allowing us to combine other raw and contemporary items."

private dining

The Terrace Bristro's private dining area incorporates contemporary furniture and graffiti-printed lampshades. Photo: Courtesy of 5G Studio

That meant the majority of the budget was spent on preserving and restoring existing elements, including exposed brick and plaster; concrete floors and columns; and terrazzo. In addition, designers borrowed granite cladding from the façade, which was not original to the building, and used it to erect a monument sign, a fire pit and (in crushed form) as part of the landscaping. They also reused reclaimed wood and brick salvaged from nearby buildings.

Throughout the process, the building's historic status kept designers from changing certain elements of the structure. That included keeping the original windows, for example, so designers covered them with low-E film to reduce solar heat gain. In addition, they installed a well-insulated high-albedo deck and a 2,700-sq.-ft. elevated platform that uses the same "cool roof" technology.

room

Existing brick, plaster, concrete and terrazzo elements were preserved to maintain an industrial aesthetic. Photo: Courtesy of 5G Studio

That deck was built to support a new pool and bar, but designers weren't sure the building could withstand the additional weight of those additions. To find out, a work crew filled one of the hotel's upper floors with water. That experiment showed that the building needed additional concrete reinforcements to support the new load.
Aesthetically, this expansion created other challenges in terms of height, color, light and functionality. "An indoor-outdoor space can be tricky to make comfortable," Axner says. "Once we knew everything looked great from all angles, heights were brought down to a cozier, less lofty level."

lobby

Brightly colored furniture and dramatic lighting enliven the hotel lobby. Photo: Courtesy of 5G Studio

It turns out the clients weren't the only ones who were personally invested in the preservation of this historic building. Axner says a number of locals stopped by to view the site's progress. The end result of this redevelopment, she observes, is a destination "that's unique: it's green, it's historic and it's well preserved.

mike scott  tiffany
Michael Mueller
president + ceo
NYLO Hotels
Photo: Bruno
Scott Lowe
managing partner
5G Studio
Photo: 5G Studio
Tiffany Axner
designer
5G Studio
Photo: 5G Studio