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The acclaimed designer of Tokyo’s 2020 Olympic stadium is reimagining the historic ShinPuhKan building in Central Kyoto as a gorgeous 213-room hotel, opening in 2019.

Kyoto is renowned for its peaceful gardens, Shinto shrines, and dynamic, design-oriented architecture (both traditional and modern). The Japanese city has long attracted creatives—everyone from David Bowie to Steve Jobs—seeking a culturally rich destination in which to relax, recharge, and source inspiration. So when the design-oriented Ace Hotel announced plans to open its first-ever Japanese outpost in Kyoto next year, the development was a natural fit.

According to a statement released by Ace Hotel Group, the new hotel will be an effort to marry “innovation with historic preservation.” The building that will house the Ace, originally designed by one of Japan’s great modern architects, Tetsuro Yoshida, served as the Kyoto Central Telephone Office in the mid-1920s. Its current reimagining as Ace Hotel Kyoto is a collaboration among Ace Hotel Group, NTT Urban Development Corporation, and Kengo Kuma—an esteemed architect renowned for his minimalist work, including the Nagasaki Prefectural Art Museum and the forthcoming Olympic Stadium for the Tokyo 2020 Games.

When it opens in winter 2019, Ace Hotel Kyoto’s design will take cues from the city’s deep-rooted cultural history, incorporating quality craftsmanship and appreciation for nature into the building’s layout and overall feel—an approach in line with the treasured brand’s reverence for incorporating specific, hyper-local elements into each hotel’s design.

“Every detail and material was thought through to connect the building, land, and history together,” Ace Hotel Kyoto architect Kengo Kuma said. “The thought was to create a hotel that is connected to Kyoto and open to the surrounding area.” 

Centrally located near landmark treasures like the Nijō Castle, Nishiki Market, and the Museum of Kyoto and Kyoto Art Center, the hotel will also sit in a neighborhood on the former grounds of Kyoto’s imperial palace. 

“It’s been our long-standing dream to put down roots in Japan,” Ace Hotel Group president, Brad Wilson, said in a statement. “We feel incredibly humbled and grateful to work with such well-respected and admirable partners, creating a space that honors the beauty and history of Kyoto while fostering global connection and cultural innovation.”  

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