By Elizabeth Lowrey, principal and director of interior architecture, Elkus Manfredi Architects.
When Boston-based Elkus Manfredi Architects designs a hospitality space, we face the perennial question: How do you create an unforgettable brand experience and still perform practical tasks efficiently? Today’s tech-driven consumers expect ordinary functions to be readily accessible, quick, and stress-free so they can immerse themselves in all the pleasures the property offers. Because of this, design firms like us are often tasked with making that ease seem effortless.
Indeed, we’ve deployed a new design process we’ve dubbed co-creation, which gives employees—those most familiar with daily guest needs—a direct line to creative partners from the beginning, and they continue to give their input through the phases of the design process. They are truly the perfect proxies. Here, we look at co-creation moments that have enhanced guest experience at three distinct properties.
Aloft Boston Seaport District
Though some hotels are taking a hands-off approach to guest interaction, our designs specifically strive to break down the fourth wall that separates employees from the guests. Take the Aloft Boston Seaport District, where check-in sits in the center of the room, feeding life in the lobby. Traffic flows easily and a high-top work table, bar, open staircase, and a pool table make guests feel right at home upon arrival.
At LINQ in Las Vegas, we spoke to desk staff about crowded check-in spaces where long lines can form, discouraging guests from utilizing the space. Removing the separation between activity areas and the entry, we created a lobby that is an elegant, hip living room with undulating stadium seating and niche bar banquettes that now offer an inviting, laidback place to work, meet, or recharge.
Union Trust Building
The reimagined arcade and atrium of Pittsburgh’s landmark Union Trust Building is now a vibrant downtown destination, which includes restaurants and retail. We spoke to restaurant staff and realized that removing the walls between cuisine, retail, and high-traffic areas infuses the whole space with a homey, welcoming vibe. For example, a champagne bar now naturally merges the retail area with the atrium, creating a new destination within the space.