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Published: Friday, 11/23/2007

Dow finds winning formula for hotel fixup


MIDLAND, Mich. - Dow Chemical Co. thinks it has a winning formula for the downtown hotel it recently acquired.

The Midland-based company has spent $25 million over the past year to renovate the former Ashman Court Hotel. Among the more unusual changes: the hotel has been renamed The H.

H officially stands for Dow Chemical founder Herbert H. Dow, although the company's corporate advertising uses H - the chemical symbol for hydrogen - to reflect its slogan, "The human element."

Dow Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris made several references to the "human element" throughout his remarks at the Monday ceremony marking the hotel's rechristening.

The chemical theme is carried throughout The H.

Signs at a French-style cafe called Cafe Zinc will bear the symbols for calcium, iron and zinc - Ca Fe Zn.

"We wanted some metals in there because Dow was founded on metal, and so we brought in zinc," Liveris said.

The restaurant will be called The Table, taking its name from the periodic table of the elements. The bar will be called Oxygen, referencing a relaxing breath of fresh air.

A redesigned courtyard will give guests the feeling of a "great European walled space" allowing them to sit against a backdrop of trees and plants, said Mark Johnson, architect of the hotel's interior.

The restaurant, cafe and bar are expected to open in early 2008, the Midland Daily News reported this week.

The goal of the redesign was to create a sense of expansiveness with more use of natural light, said Sandy Eeds, a project manager with Kansas City, Mo.-based HOK, the principal architect. HOK also designed Midland's minor league baseball stadium - the Dow Diamond.

The hotel is being renovated, in part, for use by the H.H. Dow Learning Academy for company leaders. But H also represents Dow's decision to give something to the community as well, Liveris said.

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