Dream Weavers III
Harris Rosen, the dynamic owner of Orlando's massive Rosen Shingle Creek convention resort, has decreed he wants the complex completed, with heads in beds, by Sept. 9 (his birthday) — three weeks earlier than originally planned.
Other contractors, architects and designers might balk at such a request, but not those associated with Rosen. He simply has a knack for fostering an almost devotional support from his employees and contractors, observes Brenda Hall, guestroom interior designer. “Mr. Rosen's a master at collecting people who do a job for him that's over and above what a general employee might do,” says Hall. “He surrounds himself with those who'll go that extra mile because they want to, not because they have to, and if you have a person that really cares about what they're doing, they'll do such a better job.”
So the race is on. And actually, the architect and designers have taken Rosen's decree in stride. From all reports, the job is ahead of schedule in some areas, and installation and finishing are progressing relatively smoothly. “It's taken a lot of pushing and shoving and negotiating, but everyone's put in a great effort and we're making good progress,” reports Rosen VP Garritt Toohey.
As of mid-May, 849 rooms of 1,500 have been turned over to the owner, says Mark Davidson, project coordinator, HHCP Architects. That means 849 are ready for furniture, and of that 849, at least half are completely furnished.
Another key to the fast pace is the owner has acted as his own contractor for a lot of the work, hiring his own painters and carpet installers, for example, so they're able to be there 24/7, running several shifts. “It's one of the fastest-moving projects I've ever been on,” marvels Davidson. “I've never seen a project that changes so drastically from week to week. I credit an extremely involved owner and a contractor who doesn't have a problem with that.”
Installation can be a tricky logistical task, says Hall, moving product from the loading dock into the rooms. “We're installing through exterior elevators. It takes a lot of communication and coordination and teamwork to be successful. You have to think ahead and know when the trucks are coming in, at what stage in the process and how to stage it.”
All guestroom furniture was sourced from China, via a U.S. intermediary, a move that has paid off handsomely for the owner in terms of cost savings and good quality. “So many people have had bad experiences with Chinese products, typically because they haven't had a U.S. connection,” says Hall. “We're dealing with a U.S. company that has factories in China it works with. They're over there monthly and monitor quality control.
“We've had very little damage, which on a job this size is phenomenal. We've had good packaging and handling and good receiving and installation.”
The 436-square-foot guestrooms are among the largest in Central Florida, and have an old-Florida, Spanish-revival flavor. Accommodations feature plush Creek Sleeper beds, warm chestnut furniture, deep cinnamon, gold and aqua fabrics and custom art (original framed photographs in a canvas giclee by Rosen VP Toohey) of the area's lush, natural surroundings. Thirty-two-inch flatscreen TVs, high-speed Internet access and other high-tech conveniences complete each room's relaxed ambiance.
Of course, there are always challenges on any construction project, and Rosen Shingle Creek is no exception. For example, the architecture and interior design treatments for the lobby and lower level-buffet and bistro are very complex. “I don't think there's a square doorway in the entire public area,” says Davidson. “Every doorway is arched, and the arches are of many varieties — beautiful, but more complicated to produce.”
Simply mention “groin vaults” and heavy sighs ensue. These beautiful, soaring architectural features located throughout the public spaces, have been a headache for designer Kristine Grengonis, and contractors alike. (In architecture, a vault is an arched structure of masonry, forming a ceiling or canopy. A groin vault results where two barrel vaults, consisting of a repeating semicircular arch, intersect perpendicularly). In the Panzacola prefunction area of the convention center, four gigantic groin vaults tower majestically. “The whole prefunction area is scaffolded up to 28 feet in the air and it's a tricky task for the framers,” says Gregonis. “I feel for those guys. It's one thing for me to sit at my computer and draw these things, and it's a huge mathematical problem they're up against. The space is about 50 feet wide and a couple hundred feet long and they're trying to extrapolate these arcs and frame to air. It's a tough task. They've built several incorrectly and had to redo them. And, if one groin vault off by even a few inches, it's a whole new ballgame.”
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THE BIG IDEAS
Scheduled Opening: Sept. 9, 2006
Projected Cost: $300 million
Owner: Rosen Hotels & Resorts
Architect: HHCP Architects, Inc.
General Contractor: Welbro Building Corp.
Structural Engineer: Bill Mitzo, Mitzo Engineering
Interior Designer, Public Spaces: Kristine Gregonis, Kristine Gregonis Associates
Interior Designer, Guest Spaces: Brenda Hall, W.M. Dodson, Inc.
Meeting Space: 250,000 square feet, including a 95,000-square-foot column-free ballroom
Amenities: 18-hole golf course, three pools, tennis, full-service spa and fitness center, canoeing, hiking and fishing
HD Expo Wrap-Up
The annual Hospitality Design Expo in Las Vegas continues to grow and impress with its array of informative seminars and exhibits of the latest in hospitality design products and services. HD 2006 welcomed nearly 16,000 industry professionals in late April at the Sands Convention Center.
Hospitality design is full of creative, dynamic professionals and this year's show catered to them with clever booth designs and cutting-edge concepts.
The burgeoning interest in sustainability was addressed at an issues forum on Sustainability and Wellness. Green now appears to be a favorite color and topic in the hospitality industry with a growing number of green-designated exhibitors answering the call of designers.
Over at the Lodging Hospitality booth, winners of the magazine's recent design competition were feted by magazine staff and industry supporters in recognition of their accomplishments. Design Editor Patricia Sheehan is shown in the photo, (above, far left) presenting a design award to staff of Carl Ross Design, Inc. (from second left: Donnis Bates, designer; Carl Ross, principal and project architectural designer; Tamara Smith, project ff&e designer, and Joelle Ahrens, design manager). Carl Ross Design's work for the Hilton Barbados was featured on the April 15 cover of Lodging Hospitality.
Mark your calendars to attend next year's HD expo & conference. It will return to the Las Vegas Sands Convention Center May 10-12, 2007.
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