Piers Fawkes: When I experienced TOURISTS, I interpreted it as a motel experience turned on its head into a 21st-Century guest experience. How would you describe your approach to reinventing the motel?
Ben Svenson: Certainly, that was the beginning of it. We found the Redwood Motel, and, as you describe, turned it on its head—that was our objective. It started out as an 18-room motel. We were going to stick with that footprint and be done after six months of work. That was five years ago. Our desire in building TOURISTS was to create a hospitality experience that was very much of that place and would deliver to our guests some knowledge about North Adams’ past, its present, and where things may be going.
To have a series of buildings like an 1813 farmhouse or a 1913 industrial building, or 1957 urban renewal wastewater treatment plant—that was all really exciting to us, because it supported our objective to deliver to guests an experience of this place without words.