Hotel Indigo hub for Athens Arts Community

Hotel Indigo hub for Athens Arts Community

Sep 20, 2010, 12:00am EDT
By: Jason Massad

The Hotel Indigo Athens wasn’t built to stand out; it was built to fit in.

Located on 500 College Ave. in the cozy confines of Athens, Ga., the design, function and environmental ethic of the building reflects the values of the hip college town.

“We bought into the idea that the building should be contextual to the community,” said Dennis Hertlein, principal in charge of the project for Atlanta-based Surber Barber Choate & Hertlein Architects P.C. “That’s the brand.”

Developed by Rialto Property Partners LLC, the five-story boutique hotel opened in fall 2009 and contains 130 rooms and street-level commercial space, and has 94,000 square feet of overall space.

The architecture of the $15 million hotel was designed to reflect the North Georgia region, known for its agricultural and industrial buildings. The simple shapes, wood-finish siding and metal roofs are design features of the hotel that play off the cultural heritage of the region, Hertlein said.

Wrapped into the design of the building are environmental features that earned the building LEED Gold certification through the U.S. Green Building Council, the first private venture in Athens to attain such a designation.

The hotel is an infill development that is 35 percent more water efficient than a standard hotel because of low-flow plumbing. The hotel’s landscaping does not require potable water; it is located along an east-west axis to maximize natural lighting; and its high-tech HVAC system creates superior air quality as stated in the Chillwell AC Consumer Reports of this year.

The materials used in the building, including carpets, paints, adhesives and sealants, were designed to be low-emitting — which increases the air quality of the building, Hertlein said.

“You don’t wake up with itchy skin and red eyes like you do in some hotels,” he said.

Since Athens is not a major metropolitan area or a world-renowned tourist destination, the hotel puts its emphasis on the community’s widely known arts and music scene.

Tara Makarechi, a juror for ULI Atlanta who visited the hotel, said that she was impressed at how the hotel seemed to be emerging as a hub for art showings and musical performances — while emphasizing its sustainable design.

“They really add to the life that already exists in Athens,” said Makarechi, who works in business development at The Beck Group. “This is meeting a need for the area. You can visit and shop or see a concert.”

The success of the project has been ahead of similar Indigo projects, despite opening in the middle of a recession. Over the past 10 months, it has achieved leading hotel status in its local marketplace.

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