“I also love the doors to the guest rooms. We had to use the traditional tax office doors, which are heritage protected and had to be retained – they are from the very early 20th century. The room numbers that we created have an art deco look, and when the guest opens the old protected door, the next layer is a functional door which is fire rated, sound proofed and has a modern locking system.”
A meeting of old and new
Those old wooden doors weren’t the only protected features that Joehnk and his team integrated into their design. Wander the halls of Fraser Suites and you will find 100-year-old art deco floor tiles beneath your feet, restored 1950s pendant lights above, and imposing marble columns in the foyer.
A few of the old elements of the building, meanwhile, have been updated to create that feeling of warmth and hospitality that differentiates a five-star apartment hotel from a tax office – as beautiful as that old building was.
Says Joehnk: “The biggest challenges to preserving the history of the building, while also moving it forward, have been the majestic laurel-wreath lamps in the lobby, which we substituted with the light, floating and lively chandelier, and also the colour in that space, which originally was a dark grey and beige. We had to preserve this little area like we were doing an excavation, or it was a museum, but fortunately we were eventually allowed to paint the lobby white.”
Another of the most striking spaces in the new hotel is the Library, a public space where guests can relax with a good book or magazine without having to return to their suite.