PaperCity Magazine

March 2018- Houston

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37 square foot that we've ever done," says Cantwell, a longtime Fertitta right- hand man who's worked with him for 30 years, starting out as a waiter at one of his restaurants. "The casinos end up costing more overall because of their scope, but per square foot, this is by far the most expensive." The final projected price tag? $350 million. Fertitta built a restaurant empire by understanding that everyday people value consistency and service over innovation, proving food critics wrong along the way; The Post Oak is a decidedly different play. From the onsite two-story Rolls-Royce showroom to the million-dollar chandelier (custom-built with 15,719 crystals, including 739 Swarovski crystals, in Czechoslovakia and shipped over) in the opulent three-story-tall lobby, to the blue-chip works of art — Frank Stella, Alex Katz, Donald Sultan, and multiple Motherwells — this tower is designed to wow an international crowd. It's even built to protect heads of state. Bulletproof paneling in the presidential suite provides a level of security that only few hotels in the world can match. A private elevator whisks dignities straight up to the suite from the parking garage. Tilman's team consulted with security firms that deal with three-letter-acronym intelligence agencies to hone these protection plans. LONG-RANGE VISION Fertitta has had a long time to think about every nuance of The Post Oak. In many ways, this project is more than a decade in the making. He had a full set of plans drawn for a potential hotel on this site nearly 12 years ago but ultimately decided it wasn't the right time. "We've been working feverishly on this for the last four years," Cantwell says. To ensure the new tower fit Fertitta's vision, it quickly became apparent that The Post Oak could not be affiliated with any hotel chain, no matter how luxury it was. At least, not initially. Doing so would have required ceding too much control during the build. Once The Post Oak is open — once people have stepped inside and seen it — Tilman's team does expect the premier hotel groups to come calling again. There is a good chance The Post Oak will become an affiliated hotel. The Mastro's Steakhouse and Willie G's restaurants at the complex have been open for a month. Craft F&B (burgers, pizza and craft beer), Bloom & Bee (an Italian spot), H Bar (a cocktail haven with a 1950s vibe and photos, think back to those Shamrock Hotel high times), and Bouchée Patisserie (pastries and coffee) are set to join them. The first three levels of the hotel will open before the guest rooms. Chasing perfection — and an old Houston legend — will unfold in stages. "I want them to talk about this the way people used to talk about the Shamrock," Fertitta says. "I want this to be something Houston is proud of." Fertitta wants to make seasoned, global travelers swoon. The time for talking is done. The world is coming to Tilman's new front door. WHEN ART MATTERS Frank Stella, in his Baroque best from the 1980s, will line the walls. So will a fleet of Motherwells, works on paper with collage elements. A color-field maser of the 1970s, Friedel Dzubas, punctuates another space. What may make the biggest impact, though, is Alex Katz's bookend pair of abstracted portraits of women. Oil on linen, supersized to eight-by-eight feet each, the gleaming ladies in close-up emerge from an acid-yellow background. Rounding out the viewing are the bold abstraction of British master Howard Hodgkin; equally dramatic works by Donald Sultan; and abstractions shot through with a staccato dose of the lyrical by a Texas master who lived in Galveston, Joseph Glasco, a mentor to Julian Schnabel. This isn't a museum. Nor is it the private hoard of a privileged private collector. These masterpieces of modern and contemporary art are owned by a Houston hotel. In an era where the term "hotel art" can be pejorative, this multi-million dollar collection of Tilman Fertitta's Post Oak rises to the level of epic. Placed throughout the luxury complex to be enjoyed by all those who check in to Houston's new landmark, attend a luncheon or gala, or dine at one of the notable restaurant options, the grand gesture elevates the experience with the power of important art, while messaging Houston's place in the contemporary art world. Pay special attention to some of the main calling cards of the new Post Oak Collection: Frank Stella in the lobby, including masterpieces of print making from Stella's "Waves" series paying homage to Moby Dick, published by London's Waddington Graphics. In dialogue with "Waves" is a tightly coiled sculpture from 1984, the painted metal whorls of Bene come il sale, patinated in Stella's trademark post-modern palette. A private club on the 25th floor will showcase a muscular grouping of Robert Motherwell works on paper, gestural and architectural mediations in black and red, informed by collage elements. Also perfectly positioned for impact is Alex Katz's giant canvas duet of female faces, Nicole and Emma 2, who gaze out at gala-goers at the entrance to The Post Oak's very grand ballroom. While the Katzes came from gallery Gavin Brown in New York, the majority of The Post Oak's collection was acquired from a single blue-chip source: Houston's temple of American art, Meredith Long & Company, an apt match for Tilman's temple of a hotel. Why step up with such a big financial commitment for an unheard-of art element that far exceeds the term amenity? "My intent was to offer world-class art for an international clientele in a city that can boast both," Fertitta says. "I wanted a modern and contemporary collection of American masters matched to the caliber of The Post Oak, one of my legacy projects — fitting for Houston, one of our country's art capitals." Bravo. Opposite page: Frank Stella's The Great Heidelburgh Tun, 1988, from the "Waves" series, in the collection of The Post Oak Above: Alex Katz's Emma 2, 2017, in the collection of The Post Oak

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