THE RENAISSANCE OF any older downtown area needs a catalyst, and in the case of Fargo, N.D., it was the Hotel Donaldson. Occupying a prominent corner on the town's main street, it had been used as a hotel for over a century. In 2002, a local businessperson purchased the tattered building, and, with the help of Minneapolis architects John Barbour and Janis LaDouceur, turned it into a hot destination and the centerpiece of the revitalization.
While the exterior was restored to its original form, the interior—which includes 17 custom suites, a restaurant, a bar, a conference room, a fitness center, and a rooftop garden—is decidedly contemporary. The team drew inspiration from posh boutique hotels around the world. “The client wanted to create something you'd find in New York or San Francisco,” says LaDouceur.
The demolition was like a treasure hunt, uncovering hidden gems, such as a wine vault in the basement, seemingly tailor made for a trendy bar. According to LaDouceur, the secret to successful adaptive reuse is keeping the new parts very simple, so that the old parts can be the focal points. “Artifacts like the skylights and exposed brick walls and ceiling trusses all became the jewels of this building,” she says.
Category: Adaptive reuse; Entrant/Architect/Landscape architect: Barbour/LaDouceur Design Group, Minneapolis; Builder: Foss Associates, Fargo; Developer: Old Fargo LLC, Fargo, N.D.; Interior designer: Lark Interiors, Frazee, Minn.
Learn more about markets featured in this article: Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN.