Boutique Design - October 2017 - 30
City-Center hotels don't need to be destinations in and
boutiquedesign.com october 2017
2 The Franklin Hotel at
Independence Park gives a
red chair pride of place as
accent and focal point.
3 A circular mirror in The
Franklin plays with
reflections of the dark
tones on the opposite wall.
TOM CR ANE PHOTOGR APHY
of themselves. Yes, they have to have a strong design signature
and a slickly-executed identity. But it's time for designers to
change their thinking from "downtown oasis" to "launch pad."
From Philadelphia to Istanbul, that represents a seismic shift
in the purpose of downtown hospitality. Call it the Airbnb effect
if you like, but the coolest hotels today are masters at making
guests love their time at the property, while also encouraging
them to step out and embrace the city around them.
"We were careful with our nods to iconic or well-known
points of history in the area," says Christine Shanahan,
managing director of design, HVS Design, of the firm's renovation of The Franklin Hotel at Independence Park in Philadelphia that's slated for completion early next year. "While we
worked to reflect these elements, this isn't a nostalgic or
museum-piece design. It's grounded in the current era-the
hotel owner wanted the design to encourage the guest to go
out and explore the neighborhood."
Crafting a launch pad rather than an end point changes the
design process from the first charette. On-the-ground research
is still vital-Shanahan and her team took the time to walk the
neighborhood around the hotel. They also made an effort to get
locals' insights and photograph and sketch the team's experiences. So is nerding out on the building or its surroundings. For
Shanahan, that meant doing a detailed study of Philadelphia,
including both large-scale historical events and local lore.
And, for some urban projects, designers need to be
prepared for the building itself to be a collaborator. "What
stands out for me with Room Mate Emir is the amazing