9 September 2014

THE VERB HOTEL – CHECK IN, TUNE OUT


We're really excited to be able to unveil our work for The Verb Hotel that opened last week in Boston. GBH have been working with Boston property developers Samuels and Associates since November, helping create this new hip hotel brand in Boston’s historically cultural Fenway neighbourhood. The project is a redevelopment of a 94 room, mid-century modern Howard Johnson motel, built in 1959 and, despite being a local icon, has since fallen into disrepair. In addition to positioning and naming of the new hotel, GBH have created the identity, been closely involved in the interiors and all hotel touch points.
To get under the skin of the brief, we decided to set up a 6 week pop up studio in the Fenway neighbourhood, which allowed us to fully research the history of the area and get involved with the plans for interior and exterior details right from the get go. Because of the close proximity of the famous Fenway Park baseball ground, home of the Boston Redsox (it's next door!) many brands in the area focus on baseball. However the neighbourhood has also nurtured a vibrant music and counter culture scene since the 1960s, with nearby Kenmore Square  and a multitude of iconic music clubs on Lansdowne Street being the focus. A spirit of free-thinking bohemianism was championed through a local alternative weekly newspaper, the Boston Phoenix, which was also home to the offices of iconic radio stations WFNX-FM and WBCN-FM.

Since the 60s, many Iconic bands have played the area - The Velvet Underground, Ray Charles, The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, The Who, Springsteen, Nirvana - and we leaned that over the decades the hotel played host to many iconic, rock n roll moment, always being at the heart of the scene, like a cool local personality who’s seen it all and has the characteristic looks to prove it! We wanted to buck the baseball trend and turn this iconic 'rock n roll’ past into a unique, irreverent, and altogether alternative hotel experience.

Our ambition: To return the site to its rightful place as the home of Fenway’s legends and good times while injecting it with all the things our modern guests could want. Enter The Verb Hotel. From a branding perspective, the hotel delivers in two areas. The visual look which is authentic, the original architecture restored, idiosyncratic touches and colourful references placed throughout. But there's also a story that's told through every touchpoint - references to music, an irreverent, counter culture spirit that reconnects The Verb with its original cultural roots while creating an entirely new local experience.


A big part of the visual language for the hotel centres around local characters giving a 'V sign' or 'Verb sign' as we like to call it now, which we acquired by sending a local photographer round the streets of Fenway. The concept immediately took of and formed part of the hotel's social media strategy. A curated 'exhibition' of rock n roll artefacts, images and collectibles, courtesy of The Boston Phoenix, also appears throughout the hotel, stacked light boxes (referencing old 50’s gig venues) are reimagined as the hotel’s signage, while large typographic murals such as “Walk This Way” (Aerosmith) have been painted in stairwells. Rooms are made to feel individual with the addition of irreverent quotes and touches - each room has its own reconditioned 60’s typewriter, murals of screaming fans and paparazzi adorn bathrooms and in-room directories that take inspirations from lo-fi music zines and festival programs.

Oh, and why the name? Well, if you want to get literary about it, “Verb” describes an action, and a state of being. But we like that it came from “reverb”—a reminder of the music and attitude that is live and kicking in Fenway.


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