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The Hotel at Oberlin: Innovative Architecture, Design & Green Technology

August 25, 2016 Oberlin, Ohio – The Hotel at Oberlin will officially open on September 13, 2016, a 70-room property designed to be one of the most environmentally sustainable hotels in the world. Owned by Oberlin College, developed by SMART Hotels and managed by The Olympia Companies, The Hotel at Oberlin is the first hotel in the US to incorporate solar, geothermal, and radiant heating and cooling and one of only five hotels in the US to qualify for the rigorous LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council.


 The Hotel at Oberlin was designed by the Chicago-based architectural firm Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB); the creative process was led by SCB Principal Jim Curtin, AIA. Curtin explains that “the building had to be visually engaging because of the artistically rich legacy of Oberlin College. The central design metaphor is the image of a treehouse, as demonstrated by the lofted program elements and surrounding landscape. The canted columns supporting the ballroom, with views to historic Tappan Square, are analogous to tree trunks, designed to be playful while reinforcing the sustainable nature of the building.”

“The positioning of the entrance,” Curtin says, “was a critical design decision.” The public entry and atrium directly face the intersection of College and Main Streets, literally the point where town meets gown. “We wanted to make this a transparent, inviting public gateway.”

 Interior Design

The Gettys Group are the interior designers of The Hotel at Oberlin and sought to blur the line between outdoors and inside, tapping into the natural surroundings for both inspiration and design elements. Reclaimed wood from a historic farm building became paneling for the bar area, a satellite view of Oberlin's pastoral setting was transformed into an intriguing abstract mural for the dining area, and a color palette of cool browns mated with warm red reflects the ever-changing hues of the landscape. Sustainability plays a key role in The Gettys Group's design and procurement services, with carpet tiles made of recycled materials used in the guestrooms and hallways.

Green Technology

 The innovative HVAC system relies on a geothermal well field and utilizes radiant heating and cooling ceiling panels and flooring, as well as ceiling fans. A large portion of the hotel’s power is supplied by a 10-acre photovoltaic array on campus.  The hotel has many other sustainable features, including an on-site bio retention basin to filter storm water, rainwater harvesting for landscape irrigation and exterior automated solar shading devices to reduce heat gain. Fifty percent of the building materials were sourced from within 500 miles. The primary exterior material is Öko Skin, a highly sustainable cement slat wall panel chosen because “the scale and coloration of the material is compatible with the brick and stone of nearby older buildings, “says Curtin.

The Hotel at Oberlin is the Centerpiece of The Oberlin Project

The Hotel at Oberlin  anchors the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, the cornerstone of Oberlin’s Green Arts District, and a vital part of The Oberlin Project, an all-encompassing joint venture by the town and College to create a thriving, sustainable and environmentally friendly community in Oberlin. The Founder and Visionary behind The Oberlin Project is David W. Orr, the Paul Sears Distinguished Professor of Environmental Studies and Politics at Oberlin College.  Orr, refers to the hotel as “a model of sustainability. It will not only draw people here for important conversations, but it will become an economic driver to invigorate downtown.”

Those important conversations begin this fall with “After Fossil Fuels: The Next Economy,” the first major event to be held in the Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center. Co-sponsored by Oberlin College and the Oberlin Project, it runs from October 6 -8, 2016.  Oberlin, Ohio is located 35 miles from Cleveland. Rates at The Hotel at Oberlin start at $129 per night.

Solomon Cordwell Buenz (SCB) is an architecture, interior design, and planning firm that practices nationally from offices in Chicago and San Francisco. Since 1931, SCB has made a lasting impact on the nation's skylines, campuses, and neighborhoods, helping our clients across the country achieve their goals, serve their constituencies, and make their mark. For more information, visit

The Gettys Group is an award-winning global design firm with an expert understanding of the hospitality industry. The firm offers a comprehensive suite of services including interior design, procurement, branding and consulting serving clients in the Americas, Asia Pacific, The Middle East/North Africa and Europe. The Gettys Group operates at the intersection of design, implementation and strategic thinking; breathing new life into environments and reinvigorating brands. For more information, visit

The Olympia Companies is an innovative leader in high profile real estate development, equity and hospitality management projects throughout the U.S.  They have created a new breed of sustainable, environmental and philanthropic boutique hotels managed, developed and/or owned by The Olympia Companies. The award-winning company is led by President and CEO Kevin Mahaney, an Olympic Silver medalist and a leader in capital asset management, business and real estate. The Olympia Company’s dynamic and pedigreed executive team delivers expertise in hotel development, LEED building design and construction, project management, operational oversight, branding, feasibility and market analysis, as well sales and marketing. The company currently has 19 hotel projects under management in the United States. For more information, visit

"The Hotel at Oberlin, owned by Oberlin College, is a 70-room property that opened in September 2016. It is the first hotel in the US to incorporate solar, geothermal, and radiant heating and cooling, and is on track to qualify for the rigorous LEED Platinum certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. The hotel also includes a 6,500 square foot meeting and function space as well as 1833, a restaurant overseen by Executive Chef Jim Barnhart. The Hotel at Oberlin is managed by The Olympia Companies, who have created a new breed of sustainable, environmental and philanthropic boutique hotels that they manage, develop and/or own.. The Hotel at Oberlin, 10 East College Street, Oberlin, Ohio 44074

Click here to request photos of The Hotel at Oberlin.

Press Contact
Gayle Conran
twitter @gayleconran 

Copyright 2024 The Hotel At Oberlin
10 East College St, Oberlin OH 44074
Telephone 440-775-7001

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