hospitality interiors, interior design, interior design consultants, london interior design, sheraton, starwood hotels resorts worldwide inc
25 Monday Jun 2012
01 Tuesday May 2012
One of the prettiest zombies of the real estate collapse is finally coming back to life. The condo tower at 290 Mulberry Street has been nearly finished for years now, but the developer fell into trouble, the building bounced around a bit, and only now is it coming back on the market, as a rental.
Karass Development picked up the project, and with the help of Citi Habitats broker Lucie Holt, it has been rebranded as Mulberry House, a rental building that has just come on the market. From the marketing materials:
All residences at Mulberry House include private keyed elevators, radiant-heat Walnut flooring, security camera systems, central A/C and oversized double-glazed windows.
State-of-the-art kitchens boast custom gloss-white cabinetry with stone countertops, Bosch gas cooktops and ovens, Miele dishwashers and Liebherr stainless steel refrigerators. In addition, all kitchens feature Marvel wine coolers to keep bottles at the perfect temperature.
The lofts’ bathrooms are equally luxurious. Designed as a spa-like retreats, Mulberry House baths boast custom vanities and concrete tubs designed by SHoP Architects. All residents will appreciate amenities including the full-time lobby attendant, common terrace located on the second floor, and the available private storage units.
The interior is still being completed and the rental prices remain undecided.
“Mulberry House offers rental residences that are unlike anything available in SoHo,” Ms. Holt said in a release. “The breathtaking modern design, top-of-the line finishes, and privacy offered to residents, are all truly spectacular.”
This may be the nicest news on Houston Street since they reinstalled “The Wall” in 2007—about the same time poor old Mulberry House got underway.
01 Tuesday May 2012
As of today, as you probably already know, 1 World Trade Center reached the historic height of 1,271 feet, eclipsing the Empire State Building and reclaiming its place as the tallest building in the city. In honor of that achievement, the tower will be lit up red, white and blue tonight. The Observer asked Tony Malkin, owner of the iconic tower, what he thought of being No. 2 again.
“The world’s most famous office building, the ancestor of all super-tall towers, welcomes our newer, taller cousin to the skyline,” Mr. Malkin responded in an email. “We’ve watched you grow, and now we salute you.” He signed it as “Empire State Building.”
It is a fitting tribute, if also unusual, considering Empire State Building staff were told not to discuss its “cousin’s” ascent, according to New York magazine.
Meanwhile, Curbed had a rather amusing video of the history-making column rising to the top of 1 World Trade. It underscores both the banality and the eager emotions surrounding this milestone. We have waited so long for that column to be but into place, though it is still just a 26-foot-long piece of structural steel. This is just another construction site, but also the most important one in the world.
27 Friday Apr 2012
Sheikh Khalifa Medical City © SOM
Saif Bader Al Qubaisi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Health Services (SEHA), has unveiled plans for the new three-million-square-foot, 838-bed Sheikh Khalifa Medical City (SKMC). The new complex, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP (SOM) in a joint venture with ICME and Tilke, will replace the existing Sheikh Khalifa Medical City and provide expanded medical, pediatric, and trauma care for the residents of Abu Dhabi.
Mustafa K. Abadan, Design Partner for the project, says “The new Sheikh Khalifa Medical City balances the technical demands of a world-class medical center with the psychological well being of its visitors. The design allows for the flexible integration of next generation medical technologies, while the incorporation of amenities, such as trees and hanging gardens coupled with restaurants and retail, provides tranquility, relief and a sense of normalcy for patients and their families.”
Continue reading for more images and the architect’s description.
Aerial © SOM
With construction scheduled to start in 2013, Sheikh Khalifa Medical City will combine a general hospital with a level-one trauma center and women’s and pediatric hospitals. Given the massive scale of this project, creating a hospitable sense of character and overall unity for the entire facility – while conveying a sense of identity for each individual hospital – is one of the primary design challenges.
General Lobby © SOM
Envisioned as a “city within a city,” the design endeavors to create a new paradigm for a medical center, one that is more like a bustling campus, with vibrant public spaces and a sense of community. Informed by historical regional precedents, the design seeks to strike a balance as a state-of-the-art vision rooted in local heritage. The design responds to, and is respectful of, the unique culture of the UAE and its demanding desert climate.
Rooftop Commons view towards General Hospital © SOM
The primary architectural challenge of the project was to balance the client’s desire to create distinct identities for each of the three hospitals, while maintaining an overall unified expression for the medical city. This was achieved by developing a series of unifying and differentiating components. The medical city’s heavy stone plinth – a reference to the ancient architecture of the region – serves as a common pedestrian-scaled expression, within which the most intense medical functions will be found along with shared amenity spaces and light-filled courtyards. The roof of the plinth is home to a network of gardens that also serves to unify the bed towers that rise above. The architecture of the bed towers communicates the identity of each hospital within a common vocabulary. The exterior sun screens, which characterize the bed tower facades, will vary from the simple rhythm of the general hospital to playful colors and patterns of the children’s hospital to the intricate mashrabiya-inspired geometries of the women’s hospital.
Womens Hospital view from Commons © SOM
SOM created a centralized, orthogonal plan that establishes a clearly defined sense of place. The facility’s base – a two-story plinth – houses a comprehensive array of medical functions, shared among the three hospitals. The ground floor will hold the adult and pediatric emergency departments, the women´s urgent care center, and all outpatient departments. At the heart of this floor, the diagnostic and treatment center serves all departments in the complex. The second floor houses inpatient and day surgery, intensive care units and related functions. On the main garden level above, the LDR, NICU and C-section ORs are located along with rehab and infusion. Rising above this shared plinth, the nursing areas give identity to the individual hospitals and address the specific needs of each patient population. Below grade, an extensive network of spaces is vertically integrated to support the medical functions above. Staff and visitor parking are located in a sub-cellar.
Concept Diagram © SOM
Embedded in the plinth and at the heart of the medical campus is a vibrant “town center” comprised of lobbies cafes, retail and education spaces. This lively and interactive multi-level space connects to a network of open spaces above the plinth. Located at the convergence of the two entry drives that connect the campus to the city, this town center perhaps best exemplifies how this project re-visions the building type and serves to define and distinguish this medical campus as a true center within the urban fabric.
Town Commons © SOM
The design of the medical city is based on the belief that patients are guests and everything about the facility supports that notion of hospitality. The patient and visitor experience is carefully controlled to minimize exposure to the back-of-house components of the facility. Lobbies and other public spaces convey a sense of serenity through spaciousness, natural materials and diffused natural light, while courtyards and terraces engage building interiors with the outdoors.
Hanging Garden © SOM
Like the exterior architecture, which expresses distinct identities developed from a common language, the interiors will be unified yet uniquely branded. The shared public spaces within the plinth will serve as connective tissue, while the lobbies and bed tower interiors of General, Women’s and Pediatric hospitals will express their own similar yet distinct identities. As a whole, the interiors will be comfortable, tranquil and reassuring – creating a sense of calm for patients while instilling confidence that they are within the confines of a world-class health care institution.
Pediatrics Lobby © SOM
From the landscaped entry drives to the main garden level and the light-filled courtyards that perforate the plinth, the medical city’s gardens will create a calm and healing environment. The diverse network of open spaces is considered essential in establishing a tranquil atmosphere and in crafting the campus-like environment that will help to distinguish this medical campus.
Ground Floor Key Plan © SOM
The green space strategy begins with the two tree-lined entry boulevards which transition into a grand garden oasis at the center of medical city. This shaded garden, on the roof of the building’s plinth, is accessed from below by gracious interior and exterior stairs and activated by adjacent cafes, conference areas, and family waiting areas. Within the plinth, itself, a series of courtyards serves to bring light and nature into these large floor plates, thereby mitigating the sense of distance, assisting in way-finding and creating a more tranquil atmosphere in this medically intense setting. Above the plinth, the bed towers will be woven with a series of sunlit terraces, hanging gardens and adjacent family lounges.
Typical Bed Floor Plan © SOM
The medical city will utilize state-of-art, high-efficiency systems as well as age-old regional concepts to mitigate the extreme desert climate of Abu Dhabi. From roof-top solar collectors to the simple fabric scrims that will shade the main garden level, a comprehensive climate strategy is designed to achieve a Two Pearl certified sustainability rating within the local Estidama guidelines (Abu Dhabi’s equivalent of LEED). The medical city will embrace the future sustainable growth by incorporating systems that harness, amplify and support the natural environment.
General Wall Type © SOM
Architects: Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
Location: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Project Area: 2.5 million SF
Building Height: 57m
Cafeteria Terrace © SOM
Press release provided by SOM.
11 Sunday Sep 2011
In our present financial climate and difficulties of the unsettled economy, slow property sales offers most firstbuyers a challenging task to put together a deposit for a new property. Whilst some homeowners are considering moving a vast majority are renovating rather than relocating.
Most people are emotionally attached to their properties and during these turbulent times we are constantly being told that property prices across the UK are stagnant at best.
For this reason a clear majority of British homeowners believe that renovating their current property is a much more financially wise option than moving home in the current market.
With mortgage lenders tightening their policies and continued uncertainty hanging over the housing market improving your current property is by far a smaller risk than buying a new one.
People feel reticent about selling and looking to improve their current property.
It seems homeowners are thinking strategically – investing in their home now could reap rewards should they wish to sell in the near future.
As interior designers we have found recently that more clients are investing heavily in their homes despite continued reports of challenging economic conditions.
Some are doing it to add value to their homes, some find themselves stuck on the property ladder and see a change in their living environment as an alternative.
It’s a daunting task to embark on a home improvement project, but it can also add a great deal of value to your property.
As interior architects and designers we have never been so busy, renovating an existing property is by far more challenging than working on a new build. With a renovation you are met with all sorts of obstacles that have to be overcome, window locations, structural changes, listed buildings, the list goes on. But at the same time it’s the most enjoyable.
Each project is different, so timescales and budget vary enormously, and factors affecting price might include the location and condition of the property, or the actual type of property, as well as the specific type of renovation to be undertaken.
More and more clients are thinking strategically, by renovating it allows them to remain in the community that they are happy in, children in good schools, neighbours and good amenities. By renovating it also allows them to have a new home without incurring fees for estate agents, legal fees, stamp duty, removal costs, its not a cheap exercise. Don’t be fooled though as the decision to renovate can be a painful one-both emotionally and financially. Your home is turned into a building site and you may have to find alternative accommodation.
Another reason we find clients renevationg is to make their homes ‘greener’ more energy efficient. They look to install the state of the art insulation and energy systems, which guarentees them an efficient home in terms of low energy use.
I also believe that many clients fall in love with their homes, they have a character and a beauty that they cannot part with.
Many people are renovating and changing their properties in modern times, so it is not difficult to do and there is plenty of information available regarding such projects online and in magazines and books.
23 Monday Aug 2010
Once upon a time man was a nomad. He travelled from place to place with his group. He travelled in search of prey. He travelled in search of grazing pastures for his cattle.
His travels enriched not only his animals but also his mind, he experienced new cultures, new languages and a whole new way of life. He uncovered new adventures. Its interesting to know the origin of the word ‘adventure’ derived from the Latin advenire, ‘to arrive, come about or befall’. As travel is more or less a matter of letting things befall one, of submitting to the new and unfamiliar in the pursuit of pleasure, it is, by definition, an adventure.
But now we are leading fully settled lives. We do not always feel the necessity of traveling. We do not gather the experiences of traveling as was so abundant in a by gone era. We have forgotten the romance of travel.
For many of us, the glory of travel is change, change from our routines, change from the irritations of weather, work and culture. We swap city for country, affluence for simplicity, fast- for slow-living (or vice versa), sloth for action and security for risk. Seeing new places, trying new things (e.g. foods, activities, languages), meeting new people – it is all about change. Simply by changing our surroundings alone, we are able to change our mindset and free ourselves from the stresses and strains of everyday life.
Travelling enriches us, by traveling we learn about new place and the people living in these places. We gather new experience and new knowledge. Travel gives us knowledge and pleasure at the same time. Travel gives us wisdom. We experience through travel. As opposed to books where we read the experience of other people or the second-hand knowledge of other people. Travel gives us first hand experience. We develop the qualities of painstaking, patience and frugality as we travel. We learn how to contact unknown people. So, traveling is a great teacher too. Faihein, Hiuensang and Marco Polo were the great travelers of the old. Faihein and Hiuentsang traveled from China to India. Marco Polo traveled from Venice to China.
So, at a time of year when most people’s travel plans are bare, waiting to be filled with ideas and inspiration, it is the perfect opportunity to take a step back and pick apart what drives us to travel? Yes there are the obvious answers, rest, indulgence, escape, excitement, but what underlies these desires? Do we travel to consume, to experience adventure, is it about change or is it deeper than that?
Travel allows us to live out fantasies of adventure, escape and ‘paradise on earth’. It is an opportunity to test ourselves in unfamiliar circumstance, to prove that we are more than our 9-5 cubicle job suggests.
Travel affords us an opportunity to consume. Modern society is preoccupied with consumption. We consume not simply to survive, but to achieve happiness, to build our status and self-perception. Travel is not immune from this insatiable consumerism. When we travel we consume cultures, experiences and vistas like brands. So travel makes a commodity of local culture. Everything comes with a price, a visit to the palace – £12; mountain trek – £35; traditional dance performance – £8; sense of self-worth – priceless. Today’s holiday brochures boast bargains like a Littlewoods catalogue; instead of homeware and cheap electronics, we find tigers, temples and tribal villages. All are commodities, just the same. We buy these things for the same reason we buy any other nonessential product: to look better, feel better or else appear better. We are, in effect, cultural cannibals, consuming culture so as to assimilate some aspect of it. Thus, New York confers cosmopolitanism, India spirituality, the Caribbean serenity and so on. And then there are optional extras, side dishes if you like. A five-star hotel suggests status, a wine tour imparts taste, the prefix ‘eco-‘ accords ethical acumen. In the realm of the tourist-cannibal, you are what you eat.
Take flying for instance. It’s not the flying I mind – I will always be awed by the physics that gets a fat metal bird into the upper troposphere. The rest of the journey, however, can feel like a tedious lesson in the ills of modernity, from the pre-dawn X-ray screening to the sad airport shops peddling crappy souvenirs. It’s globalisation in a nutshell, and it sucks.
And yet here we are, herded in ever greater numbers on to planes that stay the same size. Sometimes we travel because we have to. Because in this digital age there is still something important about the analogue handshake. Or eating Mum’s turkey at Christmas.
But most travel isn’t non-negotiable. (In 2008 only 30% of trips over 50 miles were made for business.) Instead we travel because we want to, because the annoyances of the airport are outweighed by the visceral thrill of being someplace new. Because work is stressful and our blood pressure is too high and we need a vacation. Because home is boring. Because the flights were on sale. Because New York is New York.
Travel, in other words, is a basic human desire. We’re a migratory species, even if our migrations are powered by jet fuel and Chicken McNuggets. But here’s my question: is this collective urge to travel – to put some distance between ourselves and everything we know – still a worthwhile compulsion? Or is it like the taste for doughnuts: one of those instincts we should have left behind in the Pleistocene epoch? Because if travel is just about fun, then I think the current security measures at airports have killed it.
The good news, at least for those of you reading this while stuck on a tarmac, is that pleasure is not the only consolation of travel. In fact, several new science papers suggest that getting away – and it doesn’t even matter where you’re going – is an essential habit of effective thinking. It’s not about a holiday, or relaxation, or sipping daiquiris on an unspoilt tropical beach: it’s about the tedious act itself, putting some miles between home and wherever you happen to spend the night.
More often than not you will be spending your nights in a hotel. These establishments understand the nature of travel and have embarked on countless studies to relate to the traveller. They embrace you when you arrive and offer you a sense of belonging a sense of ‘home’. They have honed in on every detail so that that the ‘brand’ is constant.
Hotel operators understand that when we escape from the place we spend most of our time, the mind is suddenly made aware of all those errant ideas we’d suppressed. We start thinking about obscure possibilities that never would have occurred to us if we’d stayed back home. Furthermore, this more relaxed sort of cognition comes with practical advantages, especially when we’re trying to solve difficult problems. This is why so many organisations favour to take employees to various destinations around the world to help promote self motivation and team spirit.
We work closely with many operators and design is not just a superficial element to make a property more attractive than the next its also a psychological tool that embraces you and offers a sense of security in an unknown place. These properties are not merely magnificent reflections of architecture, nor collections of chapters of history of guests of time past. They are, rather living storybooks – places where people go to see and feel the stories of celebrated lives and times gone by, as well as create new moments which will be preserved as some of the finest moments of one’s life. They are centres of living history.
Taking into account the growing pressures of daily life, especially in a year defined by global economic crisis, the ‘brand’ offers a tonic. To lose the romance of the Brand in travel and traveler experiences would be to replace the world’s rose gardens with plastic flowers. The promise of a travel experience goes deeply beyond the tangible. Even before exploring what a hotel can offer, look closely at what the Brand stands for, find the romance and the stories tucked away within the name and unlock the experience within the promise. Despite our ability to often see it, Brands are treasure chests of stories, emotion and traveller connection. And very importantly, despite their inability to say it, there is no question it is that emotion – the romance of the Brand – that travellers across the world search for… and are in need of.
When challenged the desire for travel becomes defended – time will be made to reconnect. But as days, weeks and months pass with time increasingly fading in one’s life, ultimately its absence is accepted. It is even resigned to. Despite all the technology we have to keep people connected, ironically life seems to have many moving further and further apart.
Familiarity generously extended to travellers, as a dimension of the experience of a place is a given. There is one dimension of the traveler experience. It exists innately within a handful of brands across the globe. To experience it is to experience something of the well established formula of that brand. It is authentic and pure, omnipresent and completely embracing. It warms the air and softens the step of the property. It inspires travellers to pause, to look more closely and more deeply at all of the detail of the experience, to soak up all that the experience has to offer. It causes lingering, reflection and unexpected delight. And it holds at its heart the essence of uniqueness. It is the BRAND.
A piece written for Hospitality Interiors.