Everything has a purpose Design for people Function & Aesthetics

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RPTA 154: Recreation Facility Design + Maintenance
Hotels and Design

  • Everything has a purpose

  • Design for people

  • Function & Aesthetics

  • Establish a substantial experience

  • Establish an appropriate experience

  • Satisfy technical requirements

  • Lowest possible cost

  • Provide for supervision ease

Hotel Lobby Seating

  • The placement of seating in lobby areas (hotels, airports, etc.) can have dramatic effects on visitor spending and enjoyment

  • Not only should seating placement be considered, but the type of seat is also of concern

Seating Placement

  • Often lobby seating makes conversation difficult, and can encourage people to sit in a nearby bar (where they also spend money)

Function vs Aesthetics

Le Corbusier

Function vs Aesthetics

  • If you satisfy the customer, but fail to get a profit, you’ll soon be out of business

  • If you get a profit, but fail to satisfy the customer, you’ll soon be out of customers

Hotel Classifications

  • Commercial or Transient Hotels

  • Convention Hotels

  • Motels and Motor Hotels

  • Condominium Hotels

  • Residential/Apartment Hotels

  • Casino Hotels

  • All-suite Hotels

  • Resorts

Hotel Classifications

  • Although there are design considerations unique to each type of hotel, we’ll look more closely at the commercial or transient hotel

Hotel Design

  • We know the history of hotels and importance of properties like the Tremont House, the Statler, the Palace, the Stevens and the Waldorf=Astoria

  • Each of these has made a substantial impact on the importance of major hotel properties in the city

Hotel Design

  • Even so, most still employed the same design technique of putting long hallways with rooms facing off either side

Hyatt Regency

  • One of the first hotels to radically alter the way downtown hotels were designed was the Hyatt Regency in Atlanta

  • Designed by John Portman

  • Opened in 1967

  • The first large building in Atlanta

  • Put Hyatt at the forefront of the luxury hotel industry

Hyatt Regency, Atlanta

Hyatt Regency, Atlanta

  • American cities were imploding in the 1960s – a process that continued until the 1990s

  • Although a natural center for business, many business-level people had negative views of downtowns

  • Atlanta itself was all but unknown to most northerners

Hyatt Regency, Atlanta

  • John Portman inverted the hotel’s design

  • Hotel was not a hall with rooms

  • The walls were placed on the far exterior of the site, surrounding a large area

  • The area was enclosed, creating an atrium

  • The interior of the hotel became a “public” plaza and interaction with the downtown was almost unecessary

Hyatt Regency, Atlanta

  • The atrium was twenty-three stories high (the world’s largest)

  • All room entries were off the atrium, and therefore the hotel celebrated itself

  • From the outside, the hotel appeared almost normal, creating the “wow factor” for guests entering the hotel for the first time

Hyatt Regency, Atlanta

  • The entry level of the lobby and the two levels above featured restaurants, cafes, lounges, shops and sitting areas

  • Reservations/check-in was located in the main lobby, but off to the side – leaving the main part of the lobby open, inviting guests to linger and gawk

  • The outside was now inside

Hyatt Regency Atlanta

  • The atrium wasn’t the only showstopper

  • The hotel featured the first-ever cantilevered glass elevators

Glass Elevators

  • The elevators themselves were an amazing design innovation

  • The main elevator tower was now more than a transportation shaft – it was a showpiece element

  • (Hyatt had two elevators in the back of the property for people afraid to ride the glass ones)

Hyatt Regency

  • First atrium hotel

  • First glass (suspended) elevators

  • Had revolving restaurant on top (first time used at a hotel)

  • Created interior space more attractive than exterior space – turned public space into private space

Hyatt Regency

  • Original Portman/Hyatt collaboration a huge success

  • Hyatt begins to establish itself as a brand that specializes in extreme, exciting and unique pieces of architecture

  • Uniqueness in design becomes Hyatt Regency’s feature, which went sharply against the branding of hotels to basically look the same in every city – Hyatt tried to outdo itself with each property

Hyatt Regency

  • Hyatt eventually connected by “sky bridges” to other buildings (also done by Portman – Peachtree Center), so that economic activity was removed from the street level

Peachtree Center

Hyatt Regency,
San Francisco

  • In 1972, the San Francisco Regency opened

  • Very similar to Atlanta’s design, including sky bridges (open air this time) to a series of Portman-designed office towers (Embarcadero Center)

Hyatt Regency, San Francisco

Hyatt Object

Hyatt Regency, Dallas


Hyatt Regency

  • Hyatt was quickly becoming the brand of choice for luxury

  • The hotels’ designs thrust cities into the convention spotlight

  • All was going well until Kansas City…

Hyatt Regency Crown Center
(Kansas City, MO)

  • The Hyatt Regency Crown Center opened in 1980 and became Missouri’s tallest building

  • The hotel was jinxed even before it opened, with a collapse of nearly 3000sqft of the atrium during construction (the atrium span was quite large and roof supports failed)

  • (Oddly enough, a few months before, Kansas City’s new arena also suffered a roof collapse. The building was empty at the time.)

Hyatt Regency Crown Center
(Kansas City, MO)

  • The hotel’s lobby was the most ambitious Hyatt had yet built

  • The atrium featured four suspended walkways that crossed at various levels across the main lobby space

  • The walkways were suspended by cables in an off-set pattern, with the fourth floor skywalk aligned with the second floor skywalk

Hyatt Regency Crown Center
(Kansas City, MO)

  • July 17th 1981, the hotel hosted a dance contest, and the lobby space was filled with hundreds of people

  • Spectators crowded the skywalks to watch the activity below – drinks flowed, music blasted and the event was attended by the media

Hyatt Regency Crown Center
(Kansas City, MO)

  • The fourth floor skywalk, again suspended from cabled hanging from the top of the atrium, collapsed, falling to the second floor skywalk, and both falling on the crowded lobby

  • 114 people were killed, over 200 others injured – until 9/11 the largest loss of life in a structural failure in US history

Hyatt Regency,
Kansas City

Hyatt, Kansas City


  • Hyatt was criticized for its bold design attempts and the hotel company (somewhat) toned back its designs for a short period

  • (Although by 1984, Hyatt Regency opened the Grand Cypress with an even larger lobby

Westin Peachtree Plaza

  • As mentioned in 180, Atlanta became the center of the extreme hotel boom

  • The Westin Peachtree Plaza opened in 1973 and became the world’s tallest hotel (it was connected to the Hyatt Regency by a sky bridge)

  • Also designed by John Portman

Westin Peachtree plaza

The Plaza”

  • The Plaza became an immediate landmark and icon for the city

  • The round floor plan meant that rooms were pie-shaped, and actually rather small

  • The design was copied in Detroit and Los Angeles for their landmark Westin properties

Los Angeles and Detroit

Marriott Marquis

  • Marriott made a bid to enter the big hotel game in the late 1980s, again in Atlanta and again with John Portman as architect (he’d done so well with Hyatt and Westin)

Marriott Marquis

  • The Marriott design was flashy and extreme, containing the world’s largest atrium (48 floors of open space)

  • Large fabric artwork decorated the atrium

  • The hotel became a hit with…Hyatt Regency guests

Marriott Marquis, Atlanta

Marriott Marquis, Atlanta

Marriott Marquis, Atlanta

  • Marriott tried to imitate Hyatt’s design and ended up realizing the big different between Marriott and Hyatt guests, which had appeared nearly identical demographically (but design was never a demographic question)

  • After this realization, Marriott attempted for the next fifteen years to buy Hyatt, but eventually gave up

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