When the first guests arrived last month at Hotel Palomar, they were greeted with colorful, pop art-inspired busts of Ben Franklin. The LEED-certified hotel — the first Kimpton hotel in Philly — resides in the former Architects Building and blends classic details such as marble fireplaces and Beaux-Arts pilasters with new eco elements, including a lobby floor made from recycled glass. And lots of cool art.

The hotel’s lobby, hallways and rooms are lined with fine art by local artists, including Whitney Babin, a University of the Arts grad, and Kimberly Brickley, who regularly exhibits at Rodger LaPelle Galleries in Old City. There’s even a tour available for both guests and the general public.

Gensler Architects, the New Jersey-based firm that designed the 230-unit hotel (a $51-million-dollar project), preserved the original library and restored the crown molding on the 25th floor ballroom, one of several spaces inside that boast natural light.

Other features include fashionable suites and retro-mod guest rooms starting at $250 per night. The interior has been outfitted by Powerstrip Studio in Hollywood (they also designed The Bridge in West Philly) to attract younger hip travelers who are as likely to attend a play as they are to visit local bars.

“I selected the powdery pastel busts of Ben, by Ted Berner, to offer our world-traveling guests a sense of their destination,” says Dayna Lee, the Powerstrip Studio designer. “They’ll sense not only that they are in historic Philadelphia, but also that they are residing in a lighthearted hotel.”

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