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El Capitan Hotel

Merced, CA
Description Credits/Info

Merced’s new El Capitan Hotel returns a prominent corner of the city’s downtown to its historical use as a vibrant and thriving hotel. While carefully considering Merced’s scale and development, the design celebrates both the history of the location and a city on the cusp of a new era.

The proposed design marries the simple, “punched opening” facades of the existing hotel annex with a new four-story “L” shaped building expressed as two masses along Main Street. The first section occupies roughly the same footprint as the original El Capitan Hotel, connecting the Annex building with Main Street, while the second anchors the retail corner of M and Main Streets. Using a modern interpretation of the Art Deco style inspired by the Annex building’s cornice, the nearby Mainzer Theater and other Art Deco buildings still sprinkled throughout downtown Merced, the hotel retains an industrial-age romance while clearly expressing a structure and character designed for the 21st Century.

A renewed arrangement of uses places the main entry to the hotel at the corner of M and Main Streets. The new entry is flanked by commercial and retail space to provide a vibrant and pedestrian-engaging area, and the Annex building’s interior courtyard is maintained and reconnected to the hotel lobby to provide light and air to the building’s interior. Hotel rooms on the upper floors are oriented towards Main Street and the new hotel courtyard, adding additional eyes and activity to the outdoor spaces.