NEWH - November 2003 - (Page 39)
the story of watertown
by: Anita Degen, IIDA
Degen & Degen
“Give me fun & funky.”
So began our quest to invent a new kind of boutique hotel
for Seattle’s University District. One that was different
than the hordes of other “different” hotels out there - one
that really represented the owner, the guest profile and
it’s namesake town.
This was no small challenge. Today’s market of boutique
hotels is crowded with unique designs, but all too often
guests tire of them after one visit. Seen that - done that.
How was an architecture/interior design team to invent
something with staying power in the market place?
It started in programming: taking a team approach the
owner, architect and interior designer worked together
from the start. The team was challenged to create a
hotel that would be boutique but still comfortable for the
everyday kind of guest. The owner wanted fun and funky
but distinctly not trendy. The result is a sleek and slightly nautical, yet warmly residential hotel.
In addition to the specific feeling the client wanted this
hotel to invoke, there were several more key requirements; maximize natural light, integrate the architecture
and interior design, instill a sense of individuality and
ownership for each guest and finally, bring integrity and
honesty to the building materials. Clearly no small task.
We began by trying to understand the owner/developer;
an individualistic entrepreneur. His vision was clear and
goals set. Young and active, a sailor and a pilot, he loves
Seattle’s water, in fact his house floats on Lake Union.
He even loves the rainy weather.
The hotel became focused on Seattle’s relationship with
water. Tying all of the program requirements together is
a very subtle and abstract water concept that explores fluidity, transparency and light as key elements to the architecture and interiors. Throughout the hotel, metaphors of
water remind the guests they are in Seattle. Spaces flow
physically or visually throughout.
Natural light became a driving force in the design
process, Seattle is after all, a city known for long, gray
winters. It affected the architecture, building orientation,
the fenestration and the final colors and materials.
Every bathroom has natural light and fresh air. Guests
spend most of their waking hours in the bathroom. It has
to be refreshing and rejuvenating. So breaking rule number 1 of hotel planning, we located the guest baths on the
exterior wall. Every vanity has natural light.
Expansive windows and the flooding of natural daylight
throughout the public space and guestrooms demanded
that all colors and materials chosen work equally well in
daylight conditions and under artificial light.
A seamless integration of architecture and interiors was
sought from the moment the arriving guest sees the hotel
from the street to the time the guest turns off the guest
room light. Every step described an evolving, yet coordinated design experience.
We began by establishing the ideal room layout, which led
to the building footprint. The building footprint was
manipulated to respond to the site in several ways: the
site is at an offset intersection, guest arrival is from only
one direction (via a one way street) - even pedestrian
habits already exist in its proximity to the nearby universi39
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of NEWH - November 2003
NEWH - November 2003
Letter From the Editor
On the Road Again... IHM&RS Show
Tips on Specs... Guestroom Lighting
Spotlight on the UK
Spotlight on Greater New York
Random Thoughts... Designing Today’s Boutique
Boutique Chain – Is It an Oxymoron?
Developing Boutique Hotels in Historic Structures
Unique Boutiques... The Story of Watertown
Approaching the Design of a Boutique Hotel
What Sets a Boutique Apart from the Rest?
Small Business Advice
Industry Partner Education
Sources & Credits
NEWH - November 2003