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A Former Courthouse is Now Back in Session, This Time as Le Méridien Tampa

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  Site Where: 601 North Florida Avenue, Tampa, FL, 33602
July 2, 2014 at 1:12 PM | by | ()

Le Meridien Tampa gets serious about courting its guests, debuting in this massive former courthouse. But rest assured, those unpaid parking tickets will not be added to your bill.

Climbing the monumental steps of a courthouse can make anyone a bit queasy. However, when those same steps lead to the grand entrance of a hotel, unease turns into excitement. And that's now what we're experiencing looking at these new photos of the just opened Le Méridien Tampa, inside a former Federal courthouse in downtown.

We’re seeing a rise in Federal buildings becoming adopted and adapted into a hotel (example: Trump Hotels has overtaken a post office in Washington DC, and Drury Hotels is converting a Federal Reserve building in Pittsburgh.) Courthouses have many opportunities, and challenges, for re-use as hotels. Here's how Miami-based Kobi Karp Architecture made the transformation from landmark 1905 courthouse to hotel at the Le Méridien Tampa.

The original foyers and individual courtrooms are now a part of the hotel’s restaurant (Bizou Brasserie), grand ballroom, and lobby social hubs. Much of the building's intricate detailing has remained, and the design team incorporated rich materials, unadorned contemporary furnishings and modern artwork. (FYI: Le Méridien's Unlock Art program partners up here with the Tampa Art Museum, offering free entry for hotel guests.)

The greater challenge must have been creating the 130 guest rooms and 130 bathrooms. Guest amenities include 24-hour room service, 42” TV, luxe robe, mini-fridge (wins our vote over mini-bar), iron, hairdryer and Wi-Fi. Sadly, there is a charge for Wi-Fi in the rooms. Guilty as charged, your honor.

Now, take a look at a few of the hotel’s featured spaces that are almost unrecognizable from their days in court.

If this rendering is anything like real life, then we love what we see – the furniture (we detect a Knoll piece or two,) the colors, and of course, the architect’s etchings on the walls.

It may be hard to discern, but the terrazo flooring, marble-faced walls and columns, and coffered wood ceilings are original. What a transformation!

The guest rooms feature nice high ceilings, tall windows, and glass-enclosed bathrooms. Some of the rooms were reportedly converted from the judges quarters. Oh, if those walls could talk.

The feeling of openness in these guest rooms is one of the greatest luxuries, and there should be plenty of room to do whatever.

We included one original photo to show the "before" view of the decorative but dated courtroom. See the below pix for how its looks "after" serious primping.

Every hotel should have a standout ballroom and it's tough to beat historic spaces for this purpose. Here, the ballroom is thankfully lightened up while keeping the original exposed ceiling, wall paneling and chandeliers.

[Summer rates from $140]

[Renderings: Kobi Karp; exterior photo: TheTampaTribune; historic courtroom: TampaBayTimes]

Archived Comments:

Very nice, but...

That glassed-in bathroom is not for the shy!  Pretty snazzy retrofit.  Starwood gets these right far more often than they get them wrong.  Le Meridien is a very nice brand.  The only ones I have disliked are the Parker in NYC and the Park in Frankfurt.  The one in Vienna is very cool.

I wish

They kept the courthouse as it was and turned THAT into the social hub. I just think it would be cool to hang out in an old courtroom. But maybe that's to ACE-y.

As for the bathroom, is that just the rendering that made the walls look so see-through because if not, then YIKESSS.

I mean, courtroom

I said courthouse at first but I meant the actual courtroom. I

Courthouse turn into Luxury

I can't imagine that it was courtroom.