In 1916, trains could pull up directly to Oklahoma City’s Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant to deliver kits of parts for cars; in 1968, Fred Jones, once an entry-level worker at Ford, bought the plant and founded Fred Jones Manufacturing Company; and as of June 2016, hotel guests can check into the very same building to browse 14,000 square feet of art. Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson of 21c Museum Hotels worked with Deborah Berke Partners on their sixth collaboration together to transform the assembly plant into a boutique hotel.
The building, originally designed by Albert Kahn, is on the National Register of Historic Places. Berke and her team restored or recreated many of the plant’s original features, such as the Model T showroom’s terrazzo floor, casement windows, storefront, and entry, as well as the exterior lighting and Fred Jones Manufacturing signage. The car showroom space has been reimagined as a bar and lounge, and the original train shed is an outdoor bar and dining area. Industrial and mechanical fixtures throughout the 23 guest rooms and common areas reflect the structure’s automotive history. The building’s original penthouse apartment is now a suite.
21c’s curator, Alice Gray Stites, commissioned artwork that also references the site’s industrial past with Woozy Blossom, a misting mechanical tree by Matthew Geller; James Clar’s River of Time, in which conveyor belts are covered with colored acrylic sheets to create moving panels that “flow” over a large LED clock, and other site-specific works. Rotating exhibitions will come through the hotel that highlight up-and-coming artists and the city’s own art scene.
21c Museum Hotel
900 W Main Street
Oklahoma City, OK
Architect: Deborah Berke Partners