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'60s Bank-Turned-Hotel Exudes California Cool—in the Carolinas

Bursting with vibrant colors and exuberant shapes, the West Coast modernism found in classic mid-century California buildings exudes a sunny, early-'60s confidence. Los Angeles-based design studio Commune appear to have channeled the energy and optimism of the era as part of a recent hotel renovation in Durham, North Carolina, commissioned by Gentian Group. From the restored exterior, a series of multi-story gold-and-white columns accented by a sign that seems straight out of a drive-thru, to an interior boasting kinetic color contrasts and period furniture, the reopened building offers a striking modern vision (down to the shoeshine station a record store in the lobby). The adaptive reuse of the Mutual Community Savings Bank, designed by architect Perry Langston in 1965, took cues from a grab bag of design icons ranging from Josef Albers and Charles Eames to nearby Black Mountain College. The lobby, which features Plane furniture by California designer Michael Boyd, even includes custom chandeliers inspired by the Hotel Okura. It'll need that kind of visual signature to stand out amid a recent hotel boom in the surrounding Raleigh-Durham region.


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