H2, a new eco-conscious hotel designed by David Baker + Partners, has recently opened its doors to guests. A glimpse of the undulating green roof of this sustainable inn signals your arrival in historic downtown Healdsburg. The sister property to an acclaimed luxury hotel down the street, h2hotel offers a more casual experience, where a simple modern aesthetic meets comfortable rusticity.
Reclaiming and remediating the site of a defunct gas station, the inn is a key part of the restoration of a local creek, which flows through the length of the town. Engaged in the community, the hotel abuts and provides office space for the local Chamber of Commerce, which has outgrown its own facility. It is within easy walking distance of the town square, local services, shopping and restaurants, and provides bicycles and bicycle parking for both guests and staff.
The 32,000-square-foot hotel rejects fussiness and caters to active users with a scaled-down pragmatic luxury, characterized by its sleek, sophisticated treatment of rustic materials. In the open-plan lobby, polished concrete floors and boardform concrete walls frame a light and airy grand room whose ceiling is pieced together from deadfall Douglas Fir.
The ground floor holds a restaurant and a custom zinc "receptobar" which serves as both the reception desk and a coffee/cocktail bar. The face of the lobby opens completely to the sidewalk, enlivening the local street scene.
Toward the rear, the "chill space" features low-slung furniture for gathering and lounging. The lobby fireplace, made from bound copper Steinway piano wires, floats in a steel display grid assembled with Japanese-style joinery. The case features a rotating display of art, objects of interest, games and books and also serves to screen the pool deck from lobby view.
In the adjacent conference room, the floor is made from a basketball court reclaimed from a defunct health club. Unstripped, it is rearranged into a mosaic of black, green, and natural wood. The rear of the lobby and conference room open toward the creek that runs behind the hotel. More than 90% of the regularly occupied space in the hotel has a direct view to the outside.
In contrast to the energetic common spaces, the simple and functional rooms offer a restful retreat. The 36 light-filled guest rooms feature floor-to-ceiling operable wood shutters and custom elm beds flanked by built-in armoires with internal LED lamps that light upon opening, like a refrigerator. Quilted headboard hangings soften the room without taking up space. Every room and suite includes a streamlined, convenient work area. Bathrooms feature Japanese-soaking tubs and Heath Ceramics tile, produced in Sausalito for more than 50 years.
Each suite has a private deck or balcony that overlooks the landscaped interior court, surrounding vistas, or the creek-side solar-heated pool. The rusted balconies, made of water-jet-cut Corten steel, add natural warmth to the exterior and will gradually oxidize the surface of the walls. Above, the rolling green roof, edged with an undulating Corten steel fin, is carpeted with succulents and wildflowers that draw birds and butterflies.
Registered for LEED NC 2.2 Gold certification, the hotel infuses all aspects of its design, operations, and attitude with eco-consciousness, but without didacticism. For example, on each level, a water bar with still and sparkling taps is available for guests to fill reusable glass bottles. Additionally, rainfall captured by the living roof is filtered through an underground cistern to reduce wear on the City's storm-drain system and saved to power "Spoonfall," the kinetic sculpture at the hotel entrance, made of thousands of espresso spoons.
More than 60% of the total site-including the living roof-was preserved as landscaped open space to promote biodiversity, and the majority of the developed site has been planted with drought-tolerant native species. The hotel's high-efficiency irrigation system uses one-third the water consumed by typical local landscaping.
Through a series of complementary strategies and products, the hotel is designed to use 27.8% less energy than the standard hotel in California. The custom furnishings, exterior wood decking, main stair, and meeting room floor are made from salvaged lumber in percentages far exceeding the LEED standard. Many of the materials selected for the hotel contain a high percentage of recycled content, and most of those fabricated for the hotel-including those for the green roof, custom furnishings, and framing-were sourced and manufactured within 500 miles of the site.
Photos: Brian Rose and Zubin Schroff