Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 41

A loyal subscriber since 1999, Megan Walters (with her husband
Michael), were the lucky recipients of a trip for two to Bilbao,
Spain after winning Contract's Visit.Win.Fly at NeoCon
this past June. The Senior Interior Designer works
for KOO, a Chicago-based architecture and interiors
firm where she has specialized in Hospitality Design
for the past five years. Walters who admitted this
was her thirteenth NeoCon Trade Show attended
this year's edition, visiting all seven sponsor
showrooms before hearing the news that
she won. "I was in shock. What are the odds
with so many people attending Neocon?
It was extremely exciting. My husband
and I just had our first baby last year, so a
trip to Spain was not in our near sights or plans,"
she said. Here the designer shares her observations
and takeaway from the trip.
I'm sure you had pre-conceived ideas regarding
the Guggenheim Bilbao. Designed by Pritzker
Prize-winner Frank Gehry in 1997, the now iconic
building is celebrating its 20th anniversary this
year. What were your thoughts on the museum
and interior spaces?
The first thing I did when we entered was stand
in the center of the lobby and look up at the sculptural
white stairs that coil up inside the outer window shell.
The sculptural form played against the outer windows
forming varied shapes as you moved through the space.
The structure was so complex, yet graceful at the
same time. The building was also surprisingly simple
to navigate and the wayfinding system easily guided
us from start to finish through every exhibit. I imagined
more of a maze, but it felt so open and manageable.
How did the newer buildings, including restaurants
and hotels contrast with the authentic history
of this port city?
So much of the city is lined with ornate yet historic
buildings incorporating decorative balconies
and fortress-like oversized doors. The new hotels
and restaurants are modern yet casual and strive
for distinction, which in Bilbao means breaking away
from the traditional decorative aesthetic. Hotel
architecture and interior finishes were sleek which
reinforced a modernist feel. The restaurants while
informal combined natural finishes like wood accents
and cork benches and served the Basque version
of pinxtos (tapas). Many of the tapas bars had very
small footprints; barely able to accommodate a bar
and two cafe tables though each one had their

own distinct vibe. I did spot a trend toward 90's
punk rock in some of the restaurants in the medieval
neighborhood of Casco Viejo, that were in vibrant
colors with grunge-inspired details.
Were there any favorite buildings or spaces that
you found to be particularly noteworthy?
Some of the architecture and design highlights were
the Teatro Campos Elíseos, a performing arts theater,
a modernist building by architect Alfredo Acebal from
1902 that includes an Art Nouveau style horseshoeshaped façade created by Basque-French designer
Jean Batiste Darroguy. The Bilbao Arena, a modern sports
arena with a unique exterior was designed in 2011
by architects Javier Pérez and Nicolás Espinosa for
ACXT-Idom while the Catedral de Santiago (St. James'
Cathedral), is a majestic example of Bilbao's medieval
style architecture.
Have you incorporated inspiration from the trip
into any current projects you're working on?
At KOO, I design for many market sectors from
hospitality to residential and institutional interiors.
We like to apply a hospitality approach to all areas
of our work, creating spaces with a custom identity.
Seeing Philippe Starck's Azkuna Zentroa, which
is an old wine warehouse, repurposed as an art, culture
and leisure center was just stunning. One of the
highlights is a pool on the top floor with a transparent
roof and bottom where you can see people swimming
from the plaza below. That project has directly inspired
a variety of our projects ranging from the new Rooftop
Venue and Hotel at Chicago's Navy Pier to a new
Chicago Public Library.

What was your biggest AHA moment in Bilbao?
I was surprised this was my favorite part of the
whole experience. We impulsively decided to hike back
down the mountain following winding residential streets
instead of taking the train down. We caught some
amazing views of the city while surrounded by lush
greenery and orange trees in the yards of homes
cascading down the mountainside.
Any favorite food memory?
Definitely the original seven streets of Casco Viejo
and the Piazza Nueva, a large open square full of places
to eat pintxos, the local small plates mostly made with
iberian ham or "Jamon."
Now that you've visited Bilbao, if you could travel
anywhere, where would you visit next?
I would love to explore more European cities that
are rich in architecture, local culture and have ancient
roots. We flew through Amsterdam and Paris, which
would both be incredible destinations. Bilbao really
opened my eyes to what a great experience visiting
small cities can be.

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Contract Magazine - December 2017

Contract Magazine - December 2017
Contents
Editorial
Industry News
Columnist: Books That Drive Practice Innovation
Designer You Should Know: Jun Aizaki of CRÈME
Maven Hotel
Designers Select: Office
Designers Select: Hospitality
Designers Select: Education
Designers Select: Healthcare
Product Focus: Worldly Comfort
Product Focus: Kit of Parts
Editors’ Choice
Feature
IIDA Best of Asia Pacific Design Awards 2017
Brand Report 2017
Ad Index
Exhibition: Infinite Interiors
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Intro
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Contract Magazine - December 2017
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Cover2
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 1
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 2
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 3
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Contents
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 5
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 6
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 7
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 8
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 9
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 10
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 11
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 12
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 13
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 14
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 15
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Editorial
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 17
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Industry News
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 19
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 20
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 21
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 22
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 23
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 24
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 25
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Columnist: Books That Drive Practice Innovation
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 27
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Designer You Should Know: Jun Aizaki of CRÈME
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 29
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Maven Hotel
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 31
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Designers Select: Office
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 33
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Designers Select: Hospitality
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 35
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Designers Select: Education
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 37
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Designers Select: Healthcare
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 39
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 40
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 41
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Product Focus: Worldly Comfort
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 43
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Product Focus: Kit of Parts
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 45
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Editors’ Choice
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 47
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 48
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 49
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 50
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 51
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 52
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 53
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 54
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 55
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Feature
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 57
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 58
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 59
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 60
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 61
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - IIDA Best of Asia Pacific Design Awards 2017
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 63
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 64
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 65
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 66
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 67
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 68
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 69
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 70
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 71
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 72
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 73
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Brand Report 2017
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 75
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 76
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 77
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 78
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 79
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 80
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 81
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Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 93
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 94
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 95
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 96
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 97
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 98
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 99
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 100
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 101
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Ad Index
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - 103
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Exhibition: Infinite Interiors
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Cover3
Contract Magazine - December 2017 - Cover4
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