New MSP airport hotel was a legacy project for Ian Scott
By Nick Halter, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, July 2018
More than 38 million people pass through Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport each year, and most of them will catch a glimpse of the new Intercontinental Hotel that’s opening soon.
That’s one reason why Ian Scott worked passionately on designing the hotel even while getting treatments for cancer, which started five years ago in his liver and lungs and eventually reached his brain. Scott died in December at age 47, but he made sure the hotel turned out the way he wanted.
“He knew at some point it probably wasn’t going to go his way in terms of the battle and he always looked at that building as something his son [Henry] and daughter [Georgia] could look towards and say ‘my dad designed this,” said David Serrano, Scott’s longtime friend and business partner.
Serrano and Scott’s careers ran congruent since they joined Minneapolis-based Meyer Scherer Rockcastle Design in 2001. The two later started their own firm, Serrano Scott and eventually joined Minneapolis-based RSP Architects, becoming principals in 2011.
Scott’s focus was on hospitality, designing casinos and hotels across the country. He was influenced heavily by the work he and Serrano did for American Indian tribes, including the hotel tower at the Black Bear Casino just south of Duluth on I-35. He was inspired by the natural wonders of the North Shore and often used fractured and cracking ice in his designs.
“When we started working with tribes and looking for inspiration, the way ice fractures and cracks you get these nice patterns from the way a rocky landscape can create fractures and shards,” Serrano said.
That is what guided the design of the $91 million, 291-room Intercontinental Hotel at the airport. The panels reflect jagged ice and there are blue LED lights under each floor that symbolize Minnesota’s lakes.
Three years ago, when the luxury hotel plans were in their infancy, Scott pulled Serrano aside. He told Serrano he was preparing a file about the project and wanted Serrano to make sure budget constraints didn’t ruin his vision.
“He was trusting me to fight the good fight to make sure things didn’t get value engineered because they were vital to how things were going to come together,” Serrano said. “I was going to be guardian, but then he found some new treatments and it gave him three more years and was able to see it through to the end — to make sure it was delivered to his vision.”
That required Scott to battle cancer and work on the project at the same time. He never took large chunks of time off, even after surgeries, Serrano said.
“He was driven that way and passionate,” Serrano said. “He could still run laps around guys that had nothing going on like he had going on.”
Some of Scott’s other projects include the Treasure Island Resort and Hotel expansion; the Minneapolis Millennium Hotel renovation; the interior design of Eau Claire’ Lismore Hotel rebranding and renovation;
Scott’s wife Melissa is a teacher. His son Henry is starting college this fall and his daughter Georgia is in high school.