Library Associates, LLC/ Bennett Hospitality
Winford Lindsay Architect
David Allen Company
Hotel Bennett, a 16,000 square metre luxury establishment housed in the renovated old Charleston County Library, offers 179 guest rooms and suites looking out onto the historic centre of Charleston, the area between the city’s main cultural hub of King Street and the corner of the historic Marion Square. The hotel’s architecture was designed by Winford Lindsay Architect and the interiors by Design Continuum, who were also responsible for the relaxation areas including a spa, gym and terrace swimming pool.
The project won the “Commercial” category of the Ceramics of Italy Tile Competition 2020, the twenty-seventh edition of the award organised by Confindustria Ceramica.
Considered one of South Carolina’s finest luxury hotels, Hotel Bennett has a distinctive style that blends European design with the traditional features of Charleston’s architecture.
Located on the east coast of the southern United States, the city is very popular with American tourists and is renowned in particular for its architecture dating back to the 18th century colonial period when it was an important port for the cotton trade. Founded by the British in 1670, it was the site of several major battles during the American Civil War, when it sided with Confederate forces along with South Carolina. With its rich history, fine buildings, cobbled streets, large flowering gardens and waterways that flow into the nearby Atlantic Ocean, Charleston is a popular choice of film location by American directors.
The new hotel’s spaces reflect Charleston’s warm, welcoming atmosphere and authentic historic American feel.
“The main aim of the project was to develop a building that would convey the power of its history and of its host city,” says Buck Lindsay from Winford Lindsay Architect. “We chose materials with a strong narrative power and ability to stand the test of time.” A traditional maze pattern in the lobby rotunda was created from large waterjet-cut porcelain tiles installed with very narrow joints. The rest of the lobby area features a combination of natural marble and Italian porcelain slabs reproducing an eighteenth-century optical geometric motif.
The nearby oval-shaped bar is inspired by 1940s atmospheres. The grey and pink sunray pattern floor was designed using CAD software and composed from individual waterjet-cut porcelain elements. This decorative floor was produced in-factory, shipped and then installed like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle.
Manufacturing expertise, aesthetic quality and advanced technology were the factors that prompted the designers to choose Italian products for the surface coverings throughout the hotel, including the lobby, guest rooms, corridors, swimming pool, bar, meeting rooms and commercial spaces.
Michael Bennett, CEO of the hotel owner Bennett Hospitality, comes from one of the city’s historic families and was involved in the decisions made by the design teams right from the start. “The owners immediately embraced the concept and gave us their full support in choosing the most appropriate materials to respect the building’s heritage and the quality of the rooms,” concludes Woody Faust of Design Continuum, Inc. “One of the main reasons we chose Italian ceramic tiles was their environmental sustainability and enormous adaptability to the choices made by the designers, who showed enormous attention to detail throughout the project.”