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VOL. 129 | NO. 169 | Friday, August 29, 2014

Graceland Hotel Designed by Memphis Talent

By Andy Meek

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When designing a hotel that effectively expands the footprint of the most famous home in Memphis, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the design team for the project is stacked with local talent.

The design team for the Guest House at Graceland, a 450-room resort-style hotel, includes a team of local Memphis designers whose work has included a variety of prominent buildings and landmarks in the Memphis area.

(Hnedak Bobo Group)

Memphis-based architecture firm Hnedak Bobo Group worked with Elvis Presley Enterprises for years to study and research the hotel project, which entails building a 450-room resort-style hotel called the Guest House at Graceland north of Presley’ Graceland mansion in Whitehaven.

And the firm’s design team included three experienced designers who brought to the project their years of experience designing a variety of prominent buildings and landmarks in the Memphis area.

Those projects include everything from the FedEx World Headquarters to the Main Street Mall Downtown and the Westin Memphis Beale Street Hotel.

Leading the team of HBG designers is Mark Weaver, a 30-year veteran of the firm who says he was especially drawn to the historic legacy surrounding the new hotel project, for which officials, including Presley’s wife, Priscilla, broke ground earlier this month during the annual observance of the singer’s death.

And once it’s finished, the hotel project will represent the largest such project in Shelby County in 30 years, according to Memphis Convention and Visitors Bureau president Kevin Kane.

Weaver said the design team has been “acutely focused” on capturing the essence of the atmosphere Presley instilled at Graceland. The firm’s design team also worked closely with Priscilla Presley to capture the singer’s and his mansion’s style – and to incorporate it all into the hotel.

“We’ve focused on creating even more of a sense of intimacy between the guest and property,” Weaver said.

Weaver’s past work for HBG includes convention centers in Orlando and Dallas, helping cement the firm’s reputation for national hospitality work. Since its founding in 1979, HBG has had a passion for the entertainment and leisure market, and today the 95-person firm is ranked among the top hotel design firms in the country.

In addition to Weaver, other members of the HBG team who’ve worked on the hotel’s design are Rob Jurbergs and HBG’s lead interior architect and interior designer Aron Ramage.

Specific features of the Guest House at Graceland, meanwhile, will include a grand stairwell connecting two floors in the lobby that harkens back to the main staircase at Graceland itself. The hotel, scheduled to open in fall 2015, also will include Jungle Room-inspired prints and accents, plus a sports bar and lounge that recalls the design of Graceland’s billiard room.

Other design touches include the separation of the hotel façade into three components to give it the feel of three separate residential-scale hotel buildings added over time.

The HBG team’s goal was to make the hotel look like it was built around the same time as Graceland, according to the firm, which is evident in everything from the hotel’s main entry door to its columned entry portico. After stepping into the hotel, they’ll be greeted by touches that include a lobby ceiling pattern inspired by Presley’s signature capes.

The hotel’s public spaces also will feature oversized sofas and chairs and whimsical lighting features that all reflect Presley’s style.

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