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In 1911, William Randolph Hearst completed construction on a new office for a then-small paper, The San Francisco Examiner. The original building was destroyed by the 1906 earthquake and subsequent fire, but Hearst decided to rebuild even bigger than before. The 13-story Hearst building still stands on the corner of Third and Market streets, which became known as “newspaper angle.” The Examiner worked out of this building until the 1960s, when it became a multipurpose office space.
Now, however, the grand, European-style structure is set to become a new Auberge Resorts property, the Hearst Hotel, slated to open in 2023. The luxury resorts group will maintain the integrity of the original structure, while adapting the layout to accommodate 150 guest rooms, a spa, social spaces, a restaurant, and a rooftop bar. Despite this restructuring, it is important to Auberge that the building retain its character, while incorporating the culture and amenities of modern day San Francisco.
"[The Hearst Hotel] is, with one stroke, reaching back into history, capturing some of the theatrical aspects of its past, protecting the design integrity, trying to pull in some of the nuances of the time, and yet make it very apropos for modern San Francisco and the community that’s there," Craig Reid, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Auberge Resorts Collection, tells T&C.
Though Auberge owns resorts in Northern California, this will be the company's first hotel in San Francisco proper. In choosing a property, the team searched for a combination of character and location. Reid hoped to find a unique space for the group's urban foray, and says that the Hearst building had the perfect combination of a central location and "a character and personality that was rich."
To preserve the building's history, Auberge is working with the Hearst family in the remodel (Hearst also owns Town & Country). The hotel will even use some of the Hearst family's antiques, including large mantles and light fixtures, throughout the property. Design team Roman and Williams, also behind La Mercerie and Le Coucou in New York, are leading the interiors. According to the resort group, the Hearst hotel will combine William Randolph Hearst's interest in European architecture with a modernized "relaxed, eclectic West Coast living."
Reid also says that the designers plan to maintain much of the existing structure in the building's grandest areas, from the palazzo floorings to the grand lobby to the large windows in the guest rooms. The facade, which showcases 20 cast bronze medallions of animals and a crest above the front entry, will also remain the same. "There's a certain amount of drama; it was a period of architecture that was a lot more ornate than today's architecture," he says.
While the property will not open until 2023, this lead up gives travelers plenty of time to plan their trip to San Francisco. As for Reid, it doesn't feel so far away. "We get giddy when we walk into the building," he says. "2023 sounds like it's a long way off—for us, it feels like tomorrow."
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