While many brands have core design elements that immediately let guests know what kind of hotel they’re in—like the central atrium at Embassy Suites or the “Living Room” lobbies at W Hotels—Marriott International’s Renaissance brand offers much more latitude in terms of its looks. Its recent renovation and new-build push, therefore, focused more on reflecting location rather than adhering to brand standards, and gave designers a chance to create unique elements.

“These renovations come on the heels of a major transformation of the brand,” said George Fleck, VP of global brand marketing & management for Renaissance Hotels. “We have had such a tremendous response from our owners, from our development communities and from guests around this design foundation that we knew we had to continue shifting the share and change the perception of the brand.”

This year, nearly half of the brand’s North American hotels will complete renovations, an initiative that began about three years ago. While each property’s look is customized to match its location, Fleck said that they are united by a theme of what he calls “clever theatricality.”

When the Renaissance Philadelphia Downtown Hotel opened this spring, its design, courtesy of Campion Platt, combined the historic fabric of the city with a modern energy, contrasting materiality and pop art throughout the hotel. The reimagined lobby, reminiscent of historic Elfreth’s Alley in Old Town, is anchored by a 100-foot graffiti wall designed by local artist Dan Murphy. The hotel’s restaurant, meanwhile, displays portraits of Benjamin Franklin’s five mistresses created with pixelated $100 bills.

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