Lucrative gains from annual religious pilgrimage has the Saudi Ministry of Finance clamoring to build the world’s largest hotel in the desert of Mecca, featuring 10,000 guest rooms, four helipads, and 12 tightly clustered towers on a 10-story plinth. Crowned at its summit by one of the largest domes in the world, the $3.6 billion mega-hotel has five off-limits floors earmarked for Saudi royalty, 70 restaurants, and an entire multi-function commercial space at its base for a shopping mall, food courts, a bus station, conference center and a lavishly appointed ballroom. Construction conglomerate Dar Al-Handasah designed the mammoth edifice to model a “traditional desert fortress,” sporting flourishes such as fluted pink pilasters framing arched blue-mirrored windows. The two towers within the dome will rise up 45 storeys above the Mecca desert, while two more towers will attain 35 floors, with the remaining eight towers at 30 storeys tall. London-based interior design firm Areen Hospitality has signed on to appoint the interior spaces in the palatial luxury typical of the region. While deep pockets are an unspoken mandate, guests can choose between four and five-star luxury accommodations. The hotel occupies a 646,000-square-foot site in the Manafi district, and is less than one mile south of the Grand Mosque, thronged by two million pilgrims per year and currently undergoing a $61 billion expansion to accommodate seven million worshippers by 2040. The world’s largest hotel by number of hotel rooms, soon to be dwarfed by the Abraj Kudai, is the MGM Grand Las Vegas at 6,198 guestrooms. The gargantuan construction, opening in 2017, is the latest in a spate of residential and commercial developments galvanized by rising tourism revenue, currently raking in more than $9.2 billion annually. An example is the Jabal Omar development along the western edge of Mecca, which will accommodate nearly 100,000 people in 26 luxury hotels, as well as a six-story prayer hall. “The city is turning into Meca-hattan” Irfan Al-Alawi, director of the Islamic Heritage Research Foundation, told The Guardian. “Everything has been swept away to make way for the incessant march of luxury hotels, which are destroying the sanctity of the place and pricing normal pilgrims out.”
Posts tagged with "Hotels":
The future of the mobile office is on its way, and it's blurring the lines between the home and the workplace. Spacious is the name of a "coworking hotel" concept being touted by its founder and CEO, Preston Pesek, as the future of the workplace, combining a traditional coworking space, a hotel, and retail into a giant live, work, play experience. And what better way to house the modern nomadic workforce than shipping containers? New York–based architects at LOT-EK—who designed the coworking space—have built their reputation on living and working inside shipping containers. The firm's principles, Ada Tolla and Giuseppe Lignano, explained on their website that the modular design is organized around a roughly 50-foot-tall central atrium that "opens to the street with a large glazed opening visually connecting to urban life." The massive space helps to uncramp the potentially claustrophobic sensation of typing away inside an 8-foot-6-inch tall container all day long. "The building design is a response to natural human cycles of productivity," Pesek said in an email. "Sometimes we need social interaction for stimulation, and sometimes we need privacy to be productive. The building offers a spectrum of environments for public engagement and quiet privacy, on demand, as needed." Guests can belly up to long, shared desks overlooking the activity of a sort of "public plaza" lined with retail space. Members can also choose a private bedroom/office combo. Each 8-foot-by-40-foot shipping container can hold two bedrooms and bathrooms that convert into offices by folding beds up against the wall. Two shipping containers can be combined to create larger rooms. Pesek's promotional website said repurposing shipping containers is a sustainability and financial no-brainer. Each container ranges from $2,800 to $4,000—and diagrams show upwards of 80 would be needed. That cuts down on the cost of raw materials, leaving more room in the budget for sprucing up the interior. Details on the project's website let the renderings do most of the talking, but it does explain that Spacious is all about reducing temporally wasted space—and, in turn, bring down real estate prices. "Our daily movements create vacancy gaps in the spaces where we live, work, and play," the site reads. "Even the densest cities reveal an abundance of available, usable spaces hiding just under the surface." Members would be able to book the secure hotel rooms—with full hotel amenities—on demand. And if you venture out during the day, you can earn a rebate by loaning your room to others. The larger coworking space would be open to anyone in need of coffee, doughnuts, and some free wifi. You likely won't be able to plug into your local Spacious any time soon, however. A location for the New York City flagship has not been announced, and Pesek said it's too early to disclose details about a timeline. Spacious still plans to ship out its concept to other cities in the future. [via Motherboard.]
Work is currently underway on a new mixed-use development at Ohio's Oberlin College that, once complete later this year, will include one of only a handful of hotels pursuing LEED Platinum certification in the United States. The hotel operator is Olympia Companies, based in Portland, Maine. In addition to 70 guest rooms, the building features a restaurant focused on local food, 10,000 square feet of retail, a conference center, and a basement jazz club. Rounding out the facility's 105,000 square feet will be offices for the college's admissions and development staff. The Peter B. Lewis Gateway Center, developed by Cleveland's Smart Hotels, was planned to be “the cornerstone of Oberlin's Green Arts District,” at the intersection of North Main Street and East College Street. Chicago architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz designed the project, which will draw on Oberlin's existing 13-acre solar photovoltaic farm adjacent to campus. Smart Hotels' Christopher Noble said the design team worked with the New York office of Germany's Transsolar on the development of that solar farm, and the new building will not throw Oberlin off its target of purchasing 100 percent renewable energy for electricity by the end of 2015. Mechanical engineers KJWW helped finesse the building's fully radiant heating and cooling, which employs no forced-air ventilation—although some back-of-house areas will still use some water-source heat pumps, Noble said. “We're relying on nonconventional HVAC systems,” said Noble, who added that heating and cooling needs will be fulfilled fully from geothermal wells on site. The building is expected to be certified LEED Platinum after opening early next year. While the design team hasn't assessed the payback period for the building's sustainable features, Noble said Oberlin made energy efficiency a project priority. “It wasn't a cost issue,” he said. “It was a design issue—we were going to make a statement and do this.” Of the $35 million total project cost, $12 million came from outside donors, including $5 million from the building's namesake, the late philanthropist and chairman of Progressive Insurance Company, Peter B. Lewis.
A few blocks south of City Hall in Manhattan is 5 Beekman—one of New York City’s most intriguing historic landmarks. Behind the building’s brick facade is an ornate, nine-story, glass-pyramid-topped atrium that has been off limits for more than a decade. The Architect's Newspaper took a behind-the-scenes tour of the building with the architect who is bringing it back to life as a boutique hotel. https://vimeo.com/125948595 The Queen Anne–style structure, originally known as Temple Court, was designed by Silliman & Farnsworth and opened as an office building in the late 19th Century. It was one of New York's first tall fireproof buildings and a vanguard of early skyscraper design. But after Temple Court's last tenant left in 2001, the building sat vacant—save for some magazine, film, and TV shoots—for more than a decade. In 2013, GFI Capital and GB Lodging started turning Temple Court—and its adjacent annex building—into a 287-room boutique hotel that will be known as The Beekman, a Thompson Hotel. It will be joined by the adjacent Beekman Residences, a 68-unit condominium tower. New York–based Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects (GKV) is leading the design of both projects. The hotel is slated to open near the end of the year and the residences should follow in the first quarter of 2016. Before either project opens its doors, Randy Gerner of GKV gave AN an exclusive look inside.
JetBlue Airlines—the one with free snacks and live television—is interested in getting into the hotel business, and it wants to kick things off with Eero Saarinen's swooping TWA Terminal at JFK Airport. The Wall Street Journal reported that JetBlue and New York–based hotelier MCR Development are in "advanced negotiations" with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey for the rights to turn the swooping structure into a modern hotel. While things seem promising, similar attempts have failed. In 2013, hotelier André Balazs won the rights for a terminal-to-hotel conversion, but ultimately decided not to move forward with the project because of how long it would take to complete—he's a busy guy and said he had more interesting things to pursue. After that episode, the bidding process was relaunched and JetBlue and MCR came out on top. If this new plan doesn't meet the same fate, the two companies plan to fill the terminal with 500 rooms, many of which will be occupied by frustrated fliers whose flights were cancelled and need a convenient place to stay before they catch the next flight at the crack of dawn. Honestly, having to spend a night in Saarinen's masterpiece wouldn't be the worst thing in the world.
Deafening Silence: Morphosis designs a skyscraper in the Alps next to Peter Zumthor's famous Therme Vals spa
Can a 1,250-foot-tall skyscraper qualify as "a minimalist object” under any circumstances? It depends on who you ask—particularly if the building in question, the 7132 Tower hotel designed by Los Angeles–based architecture firm Morphosis for a site in Vals, Switzerland, would go up next to Peter Zumthor’s understated Therme Vals spa. Morphosis’ Thom Mayne said yes, calling the slender, reflective high-rise “a minimalist act that reiterates the site and offers to the viewer a mirrored, refracted perspective of the landscape.” The project’s critics, meanwhile, accuse Morphosis and client 7132 Limited of disrespecting the hotel’s surroundings, both natural and built. Zumthor, who completed the quartzite-walled Therme Vals spa in 1996, appears to be taking the “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” approach. BD Online quoted a firm spokesperson as saying, “He doesn’t want to comment on this hotel.” The tower—which would top Renzo Piano’s Shard by over 200 feet to become the tallest in the European Union—is still a long way from being built, requiring planning permission and a public vote prior to construction. Among the marks against it are the manner by which Morphosis received the commission. What began as a competition ended in February with a unilateral decision by 7132 Limited to narrow the three-firm shortlist down to one, over the jury’s objection. On the plus side, Mayne’s concept has garnered a vote of confidence from Tadao Ando, whose nearby Valser Path park is expected to be finished by 2017. “I believe it will harmonize in the beautiful landscape and will attract and impress various guests and visitors from all over the world,” said Ando.
One of hospitality’s hottest hideaways is located—where else—on barren desert land solely accessible via a treacherously winding road. Booked to nearly full capacity for the first two years of operation, the Amangiri resort is nestled in a desert region called the “Four Corners,” where the borders of Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona converge. The resort was crafted by architects and designers Wendell Burnette, Marwan Al-Sayed, and Rick Joy, and guest rooms overlook a sea of sand billows, presenting unhindered views of the Stud Horse Point of the Glen Canyon to the majestic Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument. A bird’s-eye-view of the estate hints at an unimpressive, boxy encampment, but staying in this luxury enclave will set you back $1,100 a night for a desert-view suite and $3,600 for the Amangiri Suite. Designed to blend into the surrounding monoliths, the building features natural materials and textures, with a concrete facade subtly tinted pink, ocher, and light yellow to soften the building’s profile. The pavilion and main pool (which is heated to more than 80 degrees at all times) are configured around a dramatic stone escarpment which is more than 150 million years old. Adjacent to it is a communal great room with four fireplace niches, which serves as a reception area, dining room, gallery, library, and living room—as well as an optimal vantage point for drinking in the sunset. Two accommodation wings stem from the pavilion—the Desert Wing contains 16 suites, with 18 suites and the Aman Spa located in the Mesa Wing. In designing the building the architects deferred to the geometry of the looming cliffs, often slanting walls towards each other to provide slot canon views of the desert and mesa. Desert-dwelling pastimes touted by the resort include hot air ballooning, helicopter rides, equestrian excursions, hikes, and day trips to Lake Powell. The luxury resort is the brainchild of Singapore-based company Aman Resorts, which specializes in developing small, exclusive properties in locations that stray from the beaten path. [h/t Fubiz.]
In August the London creative club Soho House set up shop in Chicago, carving out a chic space for itself amid the city's hotel, dining and cocktail scenes by retrofitting an industrial building in the Fulton Market District. Designers touted the balance of “grit and glamor” in the new Soho House at the time, beckoning self-identifying creative types to the former belting factory at 113-125 North Green Street. With the launch of its first annual “art week” in January, Soho House announced itself as somewhat of a gallery, as well, unveiling a site-specific installation by Damien Hirst. Hirst, the wildly successful London artist and development dabbler, created for Soho House Chicago a “painting” made of butterflies, mounted behind frosted glass that outlines the word “CHICAGO”. It hangs 15 feet or so above the heads of guests sipping cocktails or checking into Soho House's hotel. Hirst's previous work with butterflies—famously letting them live their lives inside an art gallery—has garnered international attention, as well as a fair share of criticism from animal rights advocates. Museum of Contemporary Art Associate Curator Julie Rodriguez Widholm welcomed the piece, noting that Soho House and MCA shared an appetite for modern and contemporary art, having both previously shown work by artists like Rashid Johnson and Angel Otero.
This week an already roiling real estate market in Chicago's West Loop got hotter still. The latest entrant is a $400 million mixed-use tower designed by Goettsch Partners—a 350-room, four-star hotel beneath about 600,000 square feet of offices that will surely stoke the continued evolution of the area from post-industrial grittiness into a sleek, high-rent hub for technology companies and haute cuisine. Crain's Chicago Business reported Florida-based developer Joseph Mizrachi will further thicken an already competitive field of downtown office space, building on his 2012 acquisition of a 1.1 million-square-foot office tower at 540 West Madison Street. His group, Third Millennium Partners, hopes to start work by mid-2015 on a 1.2 million-square-foot building just to the west, at 590 West Madison Street. Goettsch Partners' design is restrained, concealing its luxury hotel rooms and undoubtedly high-tech offices in tranquil planes of glass, scored with white mullions that stripe the building's bifurcated mass vertically.
As for the crowded market, Crain's says Mizrachi enjoys an advantage over the competition:
Because the foundation already was poured for the new building years ago when a second office tower was planned, the new tower can be built in as little as 20 months, giving Mizrachi's plan an advantage over some competitors, [J.F. McKinney & Associates Executive Vice President Mark] Gunderson said. Work could begin with as little as 200,000 square feet of office space leased in advance, he said.It also might compete by offering office rents slightly lower than its neighbors, which include 52 and 53 story towers from developers Hines Interests and John O'Donnell.
Winter months in the Benelux countries are not known for blue skies and bright sun. So perhaps there's an altruistic underpinning to the design of the new 59-room Pantone Hotel in Brussels. Did architect Olivier Hannaert and interior designer Michel Pennemann seek to lift the seasonally-depressed spirits of the populace through the colorful palette? We'd like to think so, although the relentless branding campaign by the client raises a smidgen of doubt. To wit: The Pantone roller bag won't get lost in the sea of black Tumi bags on the luggage carousel. Trundle down the hall, and find your color-coded room: Key fobs graphically remind you where you are—if that's necessary: Once inside, the bed linens resemble a color chip; the walls, even more so: Room service! Maybe a spot of tea will help you feel at home: Expecting visitors? Invite them to pull up a chair: Unpacked, it's time to go explore the city. What better means of transportation—conveniently available through the front desk—could there possibly be, to best appreciate the local architecture than a two-wheeled color swatch? And in case you've forgotten a toiletry essential, never fear—Pantone is here (and increasingly everywhere).
[ Editor's Note: The following comment was left on archpaper.com in response to our Unveiled on the Gensler-designed Alessandra Hotel in Houston (AN 03_04.30.2014_SW). Opinions expressed in letters to the editor do not necessarily reflect the opinions or sentiments of the newspaper. AN welcomes reader letters, which could appear in our regional print editions. To share your opinion, please email email@example.com. ] “Glass ceilings permit guests in the lobby to see through to the top floor restaurant.” That lobby will become the biggest gentlemen’s club in Houston. Bill Wood Rangeview High School
Mexico City's posh Polanco neighborhood is now home to the recently redesigned Living Rooms of the W Mexico City. Part of a larger $100 million campaign to update its hotels across North America, the W asked New York City–based nemaworkshop, a firm that has been known to—quite literally—turn design on its head, to bring a sense of mystery and illusion to the hotel's common spaces. Guests are greeted by a translucent and inverted glass pyramid as soon as they enter the lobby, which holds secret messages that can only be seen at night. Surrounding the pyramid, a ring of seats take the form of eerie masks when seen from the rear. In a VIP lounge nearby, colorful laser-cut screens provide privacy while maintaining a connection with the larger space and surrounding neighborhood through an expansive glass facade. At the central bar, guests can look up to a ceiling of shifting waves generated by the reflective surfaces covering the ceiling, meant to give the illusion that one is in the midst a sea of moving water. Elsewhere, an unexpected tequila bar is set inside a dimly-lit bathroom. Reflective surfaces are paired with natural stones, rippling metals, and sleek geometric walls and carpets to create a series of visual effects throughout the new space. The lobby, which had not been updated since 2001, is now filled with colorful artwork and puzzling arrangements that pay homage to Mexico City’s rich history and create a series of illusions for visitors. Nemaworkshop is also working on updating the hotel's guestrooms, which will be revealed later.