April 17, 2019

Great Design Minds: 21c Museum Hotels and Ashton Woods

Tara Deans, Raleigh Studio Manager

The Raleigh Studio team recently ventured to Durham to experience the 21cMuseum Hotel for ourselves. 21c originated in Louisville, Kentucky. Founders Laura Lee Brown and Steve Wilson had a vision to create a space that would not only revitalize a corner in downtown Louisville, but also allow them to share their love of contemporary art.

The hotel takes people through a journey of amazing stories; stories about the transformation of the space itself. You can still see and feel the historical architecture of the buildings. In Durham, 21c was once an Art Deco bank1, and is now intertwined with contemporary style. As designed, the art tells many stories, from pop culture (we saw pieces on Lady Gaga and Britney Spears) to more-ironic installations like a U.S. flag made out of little green army men.

21c Museum Hotel is emotional and inspirational; engaging people with art and design, opening minds to new ideas as well as reflecting on our past. I explored the original hotel in Louisville last year, totally engaged and excited about what I might see next. Would it be a perplexing or shocking piece of art, or a giant red penguin in my bed? The experience left a lasting impression on me that contemporary art can be part of everyday life, and it can work in any space, new or old.

Does this sound familiar? I think the same journey happens every day in our Studios. Who would imagine that coming to a builder’s “selection center” would be so amazing? We’re not your boring room of samples. We’re an experience that you won’t have with any other builder.

Just like Laura and Steve believed art can impact everyday life, The Studios by Ashton Woods can impact everyday design. And that impact is huge! We’re designing our customers’ homes, where they will live, and inspiring them to be brave!


What an impact this one visit had on me over a year ago! I knew I would have to visit the Durham 21c once it opened. How great, then that I joined the team at AW, who are their own type of visionaries, and encouraged me to take my team on outings that would inspire them. My hope is they felt that excitement at 21c and remember what it is like for our customers to experience AW.

Read more about 21c in Durham and other cities here: 21cmuseumhotels.com

  1. "The property occupies the city's historic Hill Building, built in 1937 by Shreve, Lamb & Harmon Associates, the architects behind the Empire State Building. For this project, architecture and interiors firm Deborah Berke Partners modernized the space while staying true to its iconic Art Deco design, preserving original elements like silver-leafed ceilings and terrazzo floors.” Architectural Digest, May 2015

Header image: 21c Museum Hotel in Durham

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