2009 Design Awards: Designing Greatness

The design world doesn't stop dazzling during downturns. In a year filled with news of recession, depression and economic disaster, Lodging Hospitality had little trouble finding worthy candidates for its annual design contest. In fact, the challenge was paring down more than 70 impressive nominees to the five winners, who all proved innovation, efficiency and accomplishment are possible in any climate.

The Nines

A Starwood Luxury Collection Hotel Portland, OR

The Team: Sage Hospitality (ownership and management), ForrestPerkins (design) and SERA Architects

The Brief: Transform the top nine floors of the historic 15-story Meier & Frank building into a luxury hotel with an emphasis on sustainability.

The Project: A $115-million reconstruction of the former department store built in 1908.

The Finished Product: The 331-room boutique-style hotel on the top nine floors of the downtown landmark (Macy's occupies the first five) opened in October. ForrestPerkins called its approach “nostalgic modern” and used bold, modern design with traditional forms to pay homage to the building's retail past and celebrate the store's contribution to the city's arts and culture. The hotel is now awaiting final confirmation on a LEED-Silver rating after focusing on energy and water savings and air quality through environmentally friendly ff&e. Art consultant Paige Powell helped Sage Hospitality assemble a 419-piece collection of commissioned works from local artists that are displayed throughout the hotel. Guestrooms feature overscaled tufted ivory leather headboards, mercury glass lamps, espresso-colored case goods, ivory satin draperies and bathrooms with corner-mounted marble vanities.

The Focal Point: A soaring eight-story grand atrium was carved out of the center of the building, creating the dimensions for a double-loaded corridor of guestrooms around the building. The atrium provides all the rooms beautiful views with natural light (either to the outside world or indoor atrium).

Hampton Inn/Homewood Suites

by Hilton, Silver Spring, MD

The Team: Milestone Development Group (ownership), A.R. Meyers + Associates Architects and Guest Purchasing Services (design)

The Brief: Create the first vertically stacked, dual-branded hotel in the country.

The Project: A $25-million adaptive reuse of an existing office building.

The Finished Product: The 13-story building — with a 149-room Hampton Inn on floors 2-8 and a 90-room Homewood Suites on floors 9-13 — opened in December. The common spaces and back-of-house areas provide efficiencies as both brands share one set of facilities. The first-floor lobby has a front desk for both brands on opposite walls with shared seating space in the center of the room. An indoor swimming pool is located in a vaulted area built beneath grade under the existing drive-up circle because of the existing structural columns and a lack of space. An elaborate skylight allows natural light into the pool and basement areas, while also serving as a night-art installation in the courtyard entry. The light spectrum rotates as the etched glass surface is flooded with colors.

The Focal Point: The Art Deco exterior with tinted glass and stainless steel features complements the historically significant architecture of downtown Silver Spring, while also showing off the building's uniqueness with neon signage displaying both the Hampton and Homewood names at the top of the building.

Crowne Plaza

Times Square Manhattan New York City

The Team: Times Square JV LLC (ownership), InterContinental Hotels Group (management) and Wilson Associates (design)

The Brief: Create a distinctive and memorable space to match the hotel's prime real estate in the heart of Times Square

The Project: An $85-million renovation of the brand's 46-story flagship property.

The Finished Product: The reinvention of the 770-room hotel was completed last fall, just in time for a front-row seat to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. The guestrooms (on floors 16-46) are designed to create a calming feel, with soothing colors, tufted high headboards, rich dark-wood finishes, crisp all-white linens, classic navy blue throws and distinctive light fixtures. The concierge level, 144 rooms on floors 44-46, provides breathtaking views of Times Square. The property also offers the largest indoor pool in the city.

The Focal Point: The new lobby invites relaxation with its hardwood floors, warm colors and comfortable seating, making it a perfect contrast to the buzzing of the Big Apple. Brasserie 1605, a classic and sleek restaurant that has the look of a trendy diner, provides breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a grab-and-go-area for those on the move. The sophisticated Broadway 49 Bar and Lounge offers a premium assortment of scotch and an array of martinis while overlooking Times Square.

The Fairmont

Chicago

The Team: Strategic Hotels & Resorts (ownership and management), The Rockwell Group (design)

The Brief: Reinvigorate a premier luxury hotel with a new and contemporary look.

The Project: The $50-million renovation was a homecoming for designer David Rockwell, who returned to his native city for the Rockwell Group's first project there.

The Finished Product: The transformation of the 37-floor, 687-room hotel was completed late last summer, including a new lobby; a new wine, cheese and chocolate tasting room named ENO; a new spa concept called mySpa and renovations of all the guestrooms. The design's contemporary elegance comes through Rockwell's use of clean, modern lines, dark wood, neutral finishes and pops of color. Guestrooms feature furniture designed by the Rockwell Group in earthy shades, accented with bright floral artworks by famous Australian photographer Warwick Orme. The marble-tiled bathrooms feature oversized tubs and showers with cascading rainfall-style showerheads. The new spa continues the natural theme with elements of land, air and water. A teak-planked pathway bracketed by mosaic stone flooring and calming blue walls feels more like a wooden bridge over a flowing stream.

The Focal Point: The open and airy lobby features white oak-clad walls and pillars, limestone tile flooring and a two-story contemporary chandelier. Sensitile flooring leads to the front desk and then up the wall behind it, which lights up as you approach, creating a shadow effect through fiber-optic sensors.

EPIC Hotel

Miami

The Team: Pontea Gadea (ownership); Kimpton Hotels (management), RVL Architects, Cheryl Rowley Design

The Brief: Combine the style of a cosmopolitan boutique hotel with the amenities of a resort amid the energy and pulse of Miami.

The Project: The $200-million new construction of a 54-story elliptical-shaped hotel on the banks of the Miami River and Biscayne Bay.

The Finished Product: It's easy to get lost focusing on the curved-glass, contemporary exterior of the 411-room hotel (and residences) that opened in December, but the interior is just as impressive. Cheryl Rowley's use of light and textures provides a softer, warmer and more understated elegance. Her contrasting patterns and materials such as glass, stone, metals, woods and refined textiles in a rich, neutral palette create a sense of rhythm and movement.

All 50 suites feature custom furnishings, fine fabrics and private balconies and every guestroom comes with a five-fixture bathroom. The lobby showers guests with glimmers of natural light allowed to peek through textured drapery panels adorning a full-height glass wall. Twenty-six-foot-high ceilings project grandness, while low, custom modular seating, whimsical stools and curved lounge chairs provide an ideal spot to take in views of the city and bay.

The Focal Point: The 16th floor is home to a 13,752-square-foot wrap-around pool deck with two glass mosaic infinity pools, 10 private cabanas, contemporary metal daybeds, ample chaises. ottomans and benches, as well as the Area 31 Restaurant.

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