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Old Meets New in Tourists, a Midcentury Lodge in the Berkshires

JoAnn Greco • Photography courtesy of Tourists
February 15, 2019

Photos: Tourists

“We wanted something that spoke to the region, but also a name that added intrigue,” says Ben Svenson of the recently opened Tourists in North Adams, Massachusetts. As the Boston-based developer and his team—a motley crew including the bassist for Wilco, the founding editor of Brooklyn magazine, a former arts marketer for the town’s primo attraction MassMOCA, and James Beard award-winning chef Cortney Burns—dug through the site’s history, they stumbled on the answer.

A sign literally pointed the way: It simply said “Tourists.” It also gifted Svenson, architect Hank Scollard, and interior designer Julie Pearson with creative direction. Originally brought on to modify an existing 1960s 18-key motel, Scollard wound up rebuilding a new two-wing, 48-room hostelry using some of the original foundation. He salvaged the motel’s wood framing and used it as a decorative element in the property’s lodge, a refashioned caretaker’s house that operates as the check-in area and common hangout space.

Clad in corrugated metal roofing (a better material to hear rainfall, says Scollard) and unfinished white oak, the motel’s exterior embraces the sounds and smells of the surrounding woods. The interior features simple materials, such as large sheets of smooth plywood applied “so they have the same effect as using much more expensive ones, like marble,” he says.

Pearson’s concept recalls the 1970s feel of those building materials. The layered lodge, for instance, is centered on several vintage modular Mario Bellini sofas, while the “sanctuary-like” guestrooms play off of the calming effect of the plywood feature walls and built-in dayb and windowseats. “Everything is either custom or vintage,” she points out, offering “a nostalgic feeling that runs throughout the property.”