The new lobby of the Morrison-Clark Inn.


Asian Influence

A venerable grand dame on downtown Washington’s hospitality scene, the Morrison-Clark Inn has shed its Victorian mantle for a fresh new look. After the acquisition of a few neighboring properties, the inn recently underwent an expansion encompassing a six-story addition that nearly doubled its size. The project includes a new lobby, library, and 57 new guest rooms.

Hired to design the interiors, ForrestPerkins paid tribute to the inn’s history while integrating elements inspired by one of its former neighbors: a Chinese church. Guests now enter the inn through a carved limestone portal that was salvaged from the church. The new lobby features a hand-knotted wool rug with a dragon motif, bespoke red chandeliers and cascading sconces that evoke Chinese lantern blossoms. Behind the onyx reception desk, Raku clay kimono artwork by DC-based Marcia Jestaedt makes a bold statement.

“We tried to weave in connections to what the building was previously,” says ForrestPerkins president Deborah Lloyd Forrest. “They animate the space. There are also nods to the traditional style of the original hotel, but it is now much more current and energized. There’s a great vibe when you walk in the door.”

Housing a bar, intimate furniture groupings and a gateway to a new courtyard, the two-story lobby is a hub of activity. On its mezzanine level, a passage leads to the inn’s original 19th-century buildings, bridging past and present—precisely as the designers intended.

INTERIOR ARCHITECTURE + DESIGN: PAUL HODGES, lead project manager, ForrestPerkins, Washington, DC. ARCHITECT OF RECORD: Architecture, Inc., Reston, Virginia. BUILDER: Forrester Construction, Rockville, Maryland.  PHOTOGRAPHY: KENNETH M. WYNER.