With an eye to sustainability, Portland’s Elk Collective brings the SCP Redmond Hotel into the 21st century while preserving its historic appeal.
By Rachel Gallaher
In 1927 the Redmond Hotel—a two-story wooden structure in the heart of its small namesake town in central Oregon—burned to the ground in a fire that also destroyed several nearby businesses.
The next year a new three-story Georgian-style brick masonry building was erected on the site and the space continued to serve as a commercial hotel for many years before falling into vacancy more than two decades ago. Recently however, the historic SCP Redmond Hotel has undergone a complete renovation and conversion into the second location for the emerging hospitality group, Soul Community Planet. With an interiors refresh led by Portland-based design firm Elk Collective, the reopened space is once again welcoming guests with a relaxed aesthetic that embraces the historic spirit of the architecture and eco-friendly design.
While the renovation of a historic space always presents a unique set of challenges, the Elk Collective team hit this one out of the park, creatively balancing the historic architecture with modern conveniences and contemporary style, and nabbing Restore Oregon’s DeMuro Award, 2020 for Excellence in Historic Preservation—the state’s highest honor for the preservation, reuse, and revitalization of architectural and cultural sites—in the process.
“When we first took on the project the hotel hadn’t been operating in almost 20 years,” says Kelly Ogden-Gregg, principal and cofounder of Elk Collective. “The Georgian architecture was preserved both with the exterior and the interior. Much of the lighting in the lobby was also original and needed to stay intact. When renovating a historically significant structure it’s always a dance between preserving and celebrating what is and adding elements that build upon the narrative while crafting a new timeless story. Everything new had to make sense, furthering and highlighting the original features of the interiors.”
The first thing that needed to be addressed was the flow of the public spaces on the ground floor. “The lobby had last been renovated in the 1980s and was walled off from the main entry and corridor,” Ogden-Gregg explains. All of the public spaces had been broken up into separate tenant areas and were closed off from each other. “Opening up the lobby and removing the vestibule separation at the main entry made a huge difference and to meet the client’s programming needs everything needed to be reorganized in the adjacent spaces.”
Inspired by the central Oregon landscape, Ogden-Gregg opted for a neutral palette of earthy tones (light gray, taupe, brown, cream) that feel calm and inviting. The original fir floors were refurbished throughout the building, uniting the interiors with a sense of warmth and underscoring the design team’s commitment to sustainable practices. Another nod to sustainability is the custom furnishings throughout the property, which are made with juniper wood. “Juniper, while native to central Oregon, has an out-of-control population growth,” Ogden-Gregg explains. “Its thirst for limited water supplies lead to erosion and a loss of biodiversity in the high desert grasslands.” A much more eco-friendly choice than the more commonly used Douglas fir or pine.
The hotel’s public areas now include creative co-working spaces, meditation and personal fitness rooms, a farm-to-table market café with rooftop herb and pollinator gardens, and a specialty ‘garden to glass’ rooftop cocktail bar (according to Odgen-Gregg, the most challenging part of the historic review process) surrounded by living walls and boasting views of the mountains in the Cascade Range. Tapping into Oregon’s vast creative pool, Ogden-Gregg hired artist Camille Shumann to create a hand-painted mural in the cafe featuring local flora, craftsperson Kris Kirkman of KO Custom Furniture to make large, live-edge slab benches for the lobby, and artist Mitch Charles for a mandala mural in the meditation room.
Guest rooms were updated for eco-efficiency and given the same neutral palette and minimal aesthetic as the rest of the hotel.
“We set out to give this building, loved by generations, a new chapter and create something really special,” says Ogden-Gregg. “The result is an authentic environment that evokes feelings of tranquility and comfort.”
Images: Chris Dibble