With the 2020 Tokyo Olympics fast approaching, the world’s eyes are turning to Japan. However, focus on this densely-populated country’s creative output is nothing new. For the past decade, leading Japanese talents, brands, and institutions have had a significant impact on the global art, architecture, and design scenes. This summer’s event marks a pivotal moment in this cultural progression. To mark the occasion, boutique Ace Hotel chain has opened a new Kyoto outpost. Designed by seminal architect Kengo Kuma—who is also heading up the design of the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium—and award-winning Los Angeles-based practice Commune Design, the property is set to become a new hub for Japan’s historic cultural capital. A bustling lobby, verdant courtyard, art gallery, and events space will complement an array of guest rooms, and will also stand independently as gathering spaces for the wider community. True to the trendy hotel chain’s brand, the design of this latest outpost incorporates a warm, laid-back, albeit refined, aesthetic. Carefully crafted details play a starring role as Ace’s eclectic and luxurious aesthetic joins local traditions. This new venue targets an upwardly mobile creative class, but its evocative scheme pays homage to the city’s history. A portion of the 213-room hotel repurposes the historic Kyoto Central Telephone Company building, designed by modernist architect Tetsuro Yoshida in 1926. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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The burgeoning “corporate gimmick hotel” space is expanding even further, as gaming company Atari announced that it would be opening eight gaming hotels across the U.S., with the first set to break ground in Phoenix this spring. Atari has partnered with GSD Group, who will develop and design the hotels, and local Phoenix developer True North Studio to realize the first building. Although no concrete details have been released on the number of rooms or height of the first hotel, GSD Group has promised a suite of gaming-related amenities. That includes augmented reality and virtual reality integration and video game-themed branding (one assumes this means Atari's games)—selected locations will also include production studios and esports venues. Design-wise, it looks like GSD Group is banking on nostalgia, similar to the reportedly troubled Atari VCS retro console the company was crowdfunding for on Kickstarter. Atari’s swooping, triple-pronged logo will wrap the otherwise boxy first hotel, and from the rendering, it appears the bands will light up and give the project a “modded PC case” feel. “When creating this brand-new hotel concept, we knew that Atari would be the perfect way to give guests the ‘nostalgic and retro meets modern’ look and feel we were going for. Let’s face it, how cool will it be to stay inside an Atari?!” said Napoleon Smith III, partner at GSD Group, in a press release. The pivot towards hospitality and esports might seem like a strange choice for a company better known for Space Invaders, but experience spaces have become major growth areas lately; the aforementioned Taco Bell hotel, or any of the numerous Legolands, can attest to that. More Atari Hotels have been planned for “Las Vegas, Denver, Chicago, Austin, Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose” according to Atari and GSD Group.
The Marcel Breuer-designed Pirelli Tire Building in the Long Wharf district of New Haven, Connecticut, is about to have new life breathed into it following 32 years of vacancy. Local developer Bruce Becker purchased the 2.76-acre property late last December for $1.2 million with plans to turn the brutalist structure into a hotel with up to 165 rooms, as was originally reported in April of 2018. Becker purchased the property from IKEA, which has been using the building as a billboard since moving next door in 2003. IKEA was the first to propose the reoccupation of the vacant building as a hotel in November 2018 when its members spoke to the City Plan Commission. IKEA and the city officials of New Haven have both since been eager to find a buyer for the building that would be dedicated to its preservation and reoccupation, and the choice to treat it as a hotel aligns with the city's growing tourism economy as well as its plan to redevelop the Long Wharf district. Future plans for the hotel call for improvements to the structure's stormwater management and landscaping while reconfiguring the adjacent surface lot. The building's iconic exterior will be preserved to its original condition without any alterations. Two hundred square feet of bicycle storage will also be added to the building's void below the current IKEA sign. “The Pirelli Building is one of the most architecturally significant mid-century modern buildings in the United States,” Becker told The New Haven Independent, “and has the potential to be preserved and transformed into a net-zero energy boutique hotel and conference center.” The building was originally completed in 1970 for the Pirelli Tire company, which vacated the property in 1988. The structure's most iconic feature, the one-story void between the building's two main volumes, was intended to reduce noise levels between the development labs below and the offices on the upper floors. Becker has not yet revealed which hotel company will occupy the space when the conversion is complete.
A mish-mash of buildings in one of the last pockets of Old Austin has been transformed into The Carpenter Hotel by local and New York-based architecture firm Specht Architects. “The hotel not only incorporates a great mid-century union hall from 1949 but is located in what was once a small industrial area and before that a pecan grove,” founding principal Scott Specht said. The compound surrounds a tree-shaded courtyard and pool and houses a restaurant, cafe, event pavilion, and a new hotel building with 93 guest rooms. Made of an exposed cast-in-place, concrete frame, the project is composed of “some classic and unseen Texas materials,” Specht explained, “such as hollow clay structural blocks and decommissioned steel oil drill pipes.” It’s exactly Specht Architects’ propensity to work with locally sourced elements and raw materials that attracted to call upon the firm for this unique project. Yet, the client-architect relationship was not completely straightforward, Specht told AN Interior. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
Programmed as a dynamic matrix of distinctly-designed lounges, bars, rooftop terraces, and washrooms, the third floor Social Square level at the new Four Seasons Hotel Montreal was conceived as to better facilitate communal ergonomics; the fluid interactions between hotel guests and locals who stop by for dinner or drinks. Set at the base of a new Lemay and Sid Lee Architecture-designed building, located along the ever-trendy Golden Square Mile, this public floor was designed by local hotshot firm Atelier Zébulon Perron to evoke circadian rhythms. While it can be inferred that this theme is a play on the hotel's name, it can also be understood as a reference to the northern city's dark, cold winter months. Certain spaces employ sky gradients and light wood tambour paneling to express daytime, and others use a dark, rich, and moody palette of materials to suggest the evening or night. Marble, terrazzo, brass, prismatic glass, white oak, and velvet help make up this dramatic mise-en-scene. At the core of the Social Square is the MARCUS restaurant, developed with Michelin-starred chef and restaurateur Marcus Samuelsson, whose proclivity for seafood carries through the entire project. An encased king crab greats guests as they exit a gold-leaf-clad elevator bay. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
The world’s first guitar-shaped hotel has officially opened for business. Standing 450 feet tall is the new face of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, Florida—a surprisingly striking piece of architecture considering (or because?) it resembles a giant instrument. The curvaceous building is part of a $1.5 billion expansion on the existing entertainment complex that wrapped up construction this summer. Designed by Hard Rock International’s go-to architect, Steve Peck of the Las Vegas-based firm Klai Juba Wald Architecture, the unprecedented structure took nearly 10 years to design and build. The 36-story hotel is the type of architectural landmark fit for the Hard Rock brand; it even features a rockin’ light show across its reflective glass facade. Created in conjunction with DeSimone Consulting Engineers, who led the engineering on the project, the tower blends into the dark sky at night. The design team worked with Boston lighting designer DCL and Montreal digital agency Float4 to integrate 16,800 V-sticks (strips of LED video fixtures) on the rim of the guitar and the six vertical strings that run down its middle. Each evening, the hotel becomes a temporary light installation with interactive choreography set to music from Float4 and LED experts SACO Technologies. According to the Miami Herald, whether it’s day or night, the Hard Rock guitar is the largest physical attraction in the South Florida landscape for miles. This means guests within its 638 rooms have unobstructed views in all directions, including the Hollywood beachfront and downtown Miami, thanks to its floor-to-ceiling glass walls. The interiors of the hotel were designed by Wilson Associates and Rockwell Group. In addition to the guitar-shaped structure, the original Seminole Hard Rock Hotel building was fully renovated and a 7,000-seat performance venue was built on site. The existing pool resort area was expanded to 13.5 acres with a surrounding landscape by EDSA. The opening of the project comes just days after another Hard Rock Hotel under construction in New Orleans’s French Quarter partially-collapsed and killed three people and injured 30 others. Before recovering all the bodies on-site, engineers used explosives to demolish part of the structure in an effort to remove two dangerous, dangling cranes.
Ohio’s “Big Basket building” may be turned into a luxury hotel, under a new plan for preserving the vacant, seven-story structure. Ohio developer and the building's current co-owner, Steve Coon, announced on October 21 that the former Longaberger Basket Company headquarters in Newark, Ohio—shaped like a giant picnic basket and covered with fake basketweave siding—will be converted to a luxury hotel and that its exterior will remain intact, if his development team can secure historic tax credits to help finance the project. Coon made the announcement during the Ohio Heritage Conference, one day after his team held an open house that drew thousands of visitors, including former employees and preservationists. "We looked at everything," Coon said, according to a report in The Newark Advocate. "But the best value was a hotel." The building’s two “handles,” each reportedly weighing 75 tons, “that's what makes this building special and unique," said Coon. "This will stay a basket. It's going to be a basket forever. It's got the draw. This is a destination." The owners have hired Cleveland's Sandvick Architects to design a hotel that will include a restaurant and indoor pool, as well as about 150 upper-level guest rooms. In a posting on its website after the open house, the Sandvick team said its plans “will be sure to keep the unique basket shape and will honor the history of this iconic building.” Originally constructed at a cost of $30 million, from 1997 to 2016 the building served as headquarters for the titular basket company. Founder Dave Longaberger had the original architect, NBBJ, design the structure as an exact replica of the company’s best-selling product, the Medium Market Basket, only 160 times larger. The building sits on a 21-acre parcel on the east side of Newark and is easy for drivers traveling along Route 16 to spot. It has been vacant since employees were consolidated three years ago with Longaberger’s manufacturing facility near Frayzeysburg, Ohio, as a cost-savings measure. The founder died in 1999 and the company eventually shuttered for good in 2018. Coon, who heads Coon Restoration and Sealants in Louisville, Ohio, and business partner Bobby George of Cleveland, bought the building in 2017 for $1.2 million and have renovated it over the past year, with Sandvick as the architect. They then put it back on the market earlier this year, saying it could have a variety of uses. At that same preservation conference, Coon revealed another team member is David Crisafi of Ceres Enterprises in Westlake, Ohio, a development company that owns and operates hotels. The team did not say what brand the hotel would be or disclose a budget for the conversion. They said they hope to learn about the tax credits by mid-2020, and that construction would take about 18 months after that.
Though the city of West Hollywood gave its approval to a construction timeline for 8850 Sunset Boulevard, an audaciously designed 15-story hotel and condominium by Morphosis that will replace the infamous Viper Room, the city’s residents are loudly singing a different tune. On October 10, several residents of West Hollywood attended a public meeting hosted by the city where they were given an opportunity to voice their opinions. Most participants were concerned that the aesthetic profile of 8850 Sunset Boulevard and its presence on the Sunset Strip would not be considered in an environmental analysis, which is typically state-mandated for all buildings of this type. “It doesn’t belong on Sunset Boulevard,” said Jessica Hancock, a resident of West Hollywood for 47 years, before commenting that the proposal might be more fitting in cities like Dubai or Las Vegas. Another resident commented that the proposal is “too tall, too massive, and the design is grotesque.” According to Curbed, Doug Vu, the city’s senior planner responded to these and other aesthetic complaints by stating that the site’s proximity to a significant transit corridor can legally excuse its design from being subjected to state regulations, and that it “may not be considered an environmental issue per se under the California Environmental Quality Act.” Others were concerned about its treatment of the Viper Room, the bar and nightclub cofounded in 1993 by Johnny Depp which currently sits on the site. Plus Development, the current development manager, plans to demolish the Viper Room, along with every structure on the block, and reconstitute the club into the ground floor of the new building, where its character will undoubtedly be altered. Subsequent public meetings concerning 8850 Sunset Boulevard and other proposed developments along the Sunset Strip are planned to take place in the near future, as the environmental review continues—and as the makeup of the street shifts away from low-rise entertainment venues and towards luxury hotels and housing.
Melbourne is constantly pitched as Australia’s cultural capital. With its world-class museums and enviable food scene, the designation rests easily on the city. Events like Open House Melbourne and Melbourne Design Week continually attract a broad public of locals and tourists interested in exploring the city and its hybrid identities through the lens of design. Jackalope Hotel Located an hour’s drive from Melbourne’s central business district, Jackalope is a boutique hotel nestled in the vineyards of Mornington Peninsula. Its dramatic interiors act as a moody backdrop for an impressive art collection, including works by Emily Floyd, Tatsuo Miyajima, and Random International. In 2020, a second iteration of the hotel, designed by March Studio, will open in the city center. 166 Balnarring Road Merricks North In 2020: 175–181 Flinders Lane Read the full travelogue guide on our interiors and design website at aninteriormag.com.
The owner of what’s arguably the most important historic hotel in Canada wants to expand its northwestern backside with a modern addition that’s met with extremely severe criticism online. Designed by Peter Clewes, principal of the Toronto-based architectsAlliance, the bulky, seven-story structure would bring 147 new rooms to the iconic Fairmont Chateau Laurier, a 107-year-old structure in Ottawa near Parliament Hill. Late last month, the City Council’s Committee of Adjustment rejected the request by property owner Larco Investments for a reduced rear yard setback on the addition. The denial effectively prevents them from breaking ground on the project. Built in 1912 and originally named after the First Grand Trunk Railway by then-owner Charles Melville Hays, the limestone-clad structure spans an impressive 660,000-square-feet, boasts 429 rooms, and sports a number of iconic turrets. It’s located in a section of Major’s Hill Park, a grand landscape in downtown Ottawa along the Rideau Canal. Some opponents of the expansion project say it would hinder views of the surrounding cityscape, much of which is on federal land. In the September 27 setback hearing, the committee acknowledged that these heritage features would be threatened and as one city council member also noted in the Ottawa Citizen, that the design isn’t compatible with the “shapes and materials” of the hotel. All these factors were outlined in the committee’s final decision:
“The committee is of the opinion that the approval of (the) variance would allow for a new build that does not respect the landscape and character of the heritage features of the historic properties that surround the site, specifically those of the Rideau Canal, Major’s Hill Park and the Parliamentary Precinct, in contravention of the policies currently in place for compatible design and protection of views to these sites.”But Clewes, who has attempted to explain his design decision over the last few years, said the addition was imagined with the utmost respect for the historic site. In a 2016 interview with Maclean's, he claimed the hotel’s use of limestone and deeply incised windows was considered in the new project in order to complement the existing building. “We’ve chosen to reinterpret that... but in a much more contemporary manner, which is a series of vertical windows in a somewhat whimsical pattern—some have likened it to a bar code,” he said. “What we’re trying to say is, look, the hotel is the most important building here, and we were simply trying to respond to that.” If Clewes’s proposal was realized, it would be built on the site of a former parking garage located at the rear of the hotel. To signify the separation between the historic building and its contemporary predecessor, the architect added in a glazed structure so that “there’s a very clear distinction between what is old and what is new.” But it’s not enough. Larco Investments has already secured heritage and site-plan approvals from the city council but has failed in trying to minimize the required setback for an addition to the hotel property. The reduction, according to Ottawa Citizen, would project out towards the park and “represents an increase in density on the site.” It's expected that Larco Investments will appeal the decision with the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal.
It's no secret that a change of scenery can do wonders when it comes to alleviating a creative block. Throughout history, some of the most renowned artists, musicians, and writers have sought refuge by fleeing the monotony of their regular lives. While the obvious trope has long been to escape the environmental and social pressures of the big city and to set up shop in remote locales, many have found solace in less likely places: a subway car at rush hour or even one's own shower. Often all that's really necessary is the ability to pull one's self out of daily habits and yet, the power of travel—getting away—continues to be an effective means of attaining perspective and literal distance. Tapping into the potential of this quality, HotelTonight has developed clever creative initiates that make use of its main commodity: hotel rooms. This summer, the reservations app giant—recently acquired by Airbnb—teamed with celebrated design publication and incubator Sight Unseen to envision a new type of capsule residency program. Three cutting-edge New York talents were sent to three diverse U.S. cities and given a hotel room for three nights. Charged with the task of producing a bespoke object that would reflect the locale, the designers transformed their respective HotelTonight suites into temporary studios. They could only use tools and materials brought in a carry-on or found in situ. One went out looking for material culture artifacts while another went deep into the nearby forests of their allocated city to source natural matter endemic to the area. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
After months of speculation, a timeline has finally been determined for the construction of 8850 Sunset Boulevard, a 369,000-square-foot development which would rise over 15 stories and occupy an entire block of the Sunset Strip between San Vicente Street and Larrabee Street. Following a recently completed study by the city of West Hollywood, it has been determined that construction can begin on the Morphosis-designed, Viper Room-replacing project in the Spring of 2021 and could be completed in as few as 32 months. The site was originally purchased in 2017 by Silver Creek Development Co. for $80 million, and the project is supported by multidisciplinary real estate company Plus Development. The renderings for the development were first unveiled last December, and it appears that little, if anything, of the design has been subdued since then. The proposal still comprises two aesthetically distinct towers between a 120-foot-wide grassy hill and above a transparent ground floor. The amorphous tower facing San Vicente will be a 115-room hotel, while the rectilinear tower facing Larrabee will contain 31 condominiums and 10 or 11 units of affordable housing. The complex's ground floor will be primarily mixed-use, including a new home for the Viper Room, the infamous bar cofounded by Johnny Depp which is currently on the site. Amenities accessible to both towers will include a movie screening room, a gym, and a rooftop pool and restaurant. In addition, a three-story LED screen will be fitted into a void cut out of the tower facing San Vicente. When completed, 8850 Sunset Boulevard will be one of the most audacious buildings designed by Morphosis in its 47-year run, and will rival some of the firm’s other projects built around Los Angeles, including Emerson College Los Angeles and CalTrans District 7 Headquarters.