PortfolioJumeirah Clearwater Bay Resort
Qingshui Wan, Lingshui, Hainan, China
I'd like to share my journey home to the Philippines during the week of November 18th to the 23rd. On November 17th I flew home to check on my family without any idea of where to find them or the condition of the area that they were staying. I hadn't heard from them since the the third day of Typhoon Haiyan (November 11) just after it had struck my hometown. They sent a text message saying they are all fine, after that it was six days before I heard from them again.
On the 17th of November I was on my way to the airport and received an email from my brother telling me where they were staying and that they were all okay. I was so relieved. Thank God, now I know where to go and know how to find them. I was able to find them right away on Tuesday afternoon, they were staying in a School named VUS in Baybay near Ormoc, a town directly connected to Cebu by ferry where my family is currently staying as this area was slightly less impacted by the storm.
Thursday was the earliest ferry my family and I could get to Cebu, so we still had to wait a day in Baybay. This didn't seem to matter though, as everyone was safe. With a day left to wait, I decided to go to Tacloban City to check the current situation.
It was heartbreaking to see the town where I grew up destroyed. I couldn't even recognize the place when I was there. Roofless houses, wrecked cars everywhere, people helping each other set-up a temporary shelter, people queuing for relief goods and gasoline, some looking for their families, children crying asking for help, piles of debris which used to be peoples homes and businesses. No electricity, no water, no market - most shops and malls were leveled, hospitals were destroyed, soldiers in the streets, helicopters flying overhead, the city was like a wasteland.
It will definitely take time to recover and get everything back to normal. My family has decided to stay in Cebu until electricity and security is restored in our hometown, we're hopeful that it's only two months away. I'm thankful to my WATG family for all their help and support.
Click here to find out how you can help Typhoon Haiyan survivors.
Esri is the biggest GIS solutions company in the world and its products cover all areas from planning, government, environment, military, remote sensing and many others. Over 12,000 people attend this annual conference but only a handful are privileged enough to present there. We were fortunate enough to have ESRI show personal interest in our work with CityEngine.
I gave the presentation which was well received and the many comments which followed acknowledged that WATG is at the forefront of this design technology.
We have also made some interesting contacts within Esri and are planning to keep in close contact with their development team and see how we can help push the next releases towards the smart urban design tool that it is. We also made some contacts with other professionals working with CityEngine and hope to be able to share ideas in the future.
Another tool that was presented in the conference was a 3D plug-in for CityEngine, produced by the same company who modeled all the 3D trees in the movie "Avatar." We teamed up with them and developed a beta version to test on our next City Engine project. Naturally our expectations are very high and we are very excited to be part of this developing community.
Many speakers in the Smart Cities session called CityEngine a game changer for urban design, which we strongly believe it is and are looking forward to being part of this promising and evolving technology.
Here is my presentation:
If you have any questions, please leave a comment below.
On the 22nd of June 2013 WATG's London office will be hosting an open studio day as part of the 2013 London Festival of Architecture. This is part of the Fitzrovia Trail event where various offices in the area will be opening their doors to the public to showcase their offices and work.
WATG's event is entitled 'On the flipside' and is designed to be a fun interactive day for visitors of all ages. The day will focus on showing visitors how easy it can be to create a simple animation. The theme will be 'A Summer’s day in London' and we will be encouraging guests to use London and its fantastic array of architecture as the backdrop for their animations.
Please come along to our offices with a healthy dose of creativity to enjoy a fun animated look at London and its architecture. You will also be able to see a range of WATG’s exciting hospitality projects from all around in the world.
We look forward to seeing you at our London office between 11h00 and 15h00 on the 22nd of June.
I was privileged and honored to serve on the AIA Design Awards committee this year. In addition to meeting with respected members of the community, it was a tremendous learning experience just being in the same room with the judges and listening to them discussing design, and debating the merits of each entry.
We also visited a few of the properties on judging day.
As the jury selections were made, and the winners chosen (to be announced in July), voting opens today for AIA Honolulu's People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards now includes unbuilt projects.
Click here to vote for your favorite project.
AIA members can also vote from the Jack C. Lipman AIA Members Choice Award, and there is also a Mayor's Choice Award, to be selected by Mayor Kirk Caldwell.
Many thanks to Biwen Li for volunteering to help me facilitate the judging (on a Saturday), and for taking the photographs.
This past weekend, Jon Lee and I volunteered for the 2013 AIA Waikiki Walking Tour. We served as docents for the Bank of Hawaii Building and the Waikiki Business Plaza. We stood on Kalakaua Avenue on Saturday morning, shouted over traffic noise, and offered information about the two Waikiki landmarks. Nearly 300 people took part in the tour in 18 separate groups.
The Bank of Hawaii Building was designed by our founder George "Pete" Wimberly, and built in 1967. One of the design challenges was to integrate sustainable features with tropical and cultural elements. His solution was multipurpose interlacing arches. The arches were designed to evoke the ancient Hawaiian art and mimic the form of pineapples, which are also interpreted as rainbow and palm trees. The arch features also provide lateral bracing to the building facade and provide sunshade to the interior, reducing energy consumption for air conditioning. The Bank of Hawaii Building was also the location of the WATG office until 1997.
The Waikiki Business Plaza was designed by Edwin Bauer, and built in 1965. The most notable design feature is the revolving restaurant at the top of the building, revolving once-an-hour and providing panoramic views of the ocean, Diamond Head, and the Koolau mountain range.
Early in 2013, we interviewed a selection of leading hotel brands on the state of the branded residence sector. 2009 through 2011 were challenging years, characterised by low transaction volumes and downward pressure on prices. However, 2012 has seen a resurgence in particular geographies (notably Asia), and even in North America built inventory began to sell once more. It was a strong year for new destination deals and the operators surveyed indicated a price premium over non-branded, high-end residential, of between 20 to 35 percent, with some prime urban locations significantly outperforming these ratios. One operator surveyed, observed that the branding of real estate by a premier hotel operator typically enhanced sales velocity by 20 to 30 percent, relative to unbranded residential real estate of a similar quantity. Emerging buyer markets included Russians, Brazilians, Arabs and, of course, South East Asians. Typical buyers lie between 40 to 60 years of age.
We asked the operators how the new economic environment would impact their future development plans and they were unanimous in stating that there is now a focus on exceptional sites in prime locations rather than in secondary or tertiary destinations. In some cases, greater scrutiny will be applied to the developer to ensure that they will be a suitable and financially stable partner.
There is greater emphasis, predictably on the more robust economies, notably China and South-East Asia (Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand were the most mentioned) but also Turkey, Morocco and hot spots in the Middle East (UAE and Saudi Arabia). Operator appetite is greater for urban, rather than resort locations, although exceptional resort sites will still be considered.
On average, urban branded residences are achieving annual sales absorption rates of around 50 to 80 units, although there are individual case studies of more robust sales rates in ‘hot’ emerging markets. In high-end resorts, operators historically expected sales to average between 20 and 40 units a year, although there is a strong relationship with price and this range can increase a little for those resorts where apartment products dominate the unit mix. However, these rates of sales velocity have not been achieved over the last four years in the resort market, with a few exceptions, and it remains to be seen what a typical level of sales absorption will constitute in the future.
Discussions generally indicated a rationalisation of unit sizes over the last two years. Pricing pressure makes it more attractive to develop slightly smaller units and maintain the average price per square metre. However, these are luxury products and will always need to be developed to a reasonable size in order to communicate the appropriate marketing message. In a resort context, all operators experienced an increased interest in furniture packages and resort rental pools in recent years, with up to 80 percent take up in longer haul markets.
In summary, ‘operators had a greater sense of optimism and excitement about 2013, with a strong sense that the North America market had bottomed out and emerging markets held strong potential for future growth.’
To obtain a free copy of the report, please fill in your name and email address in the comment section below (your information will not be posted).
On December 7th, the Wimberly Interiors joined four other Southern California hospitality firms in a showcase of masquerade masks at the annual NEWH Los Angeles Chapter's Masquerade Ball.
In the weeks leading up to the event, the entire Los Angeles studio collaborated in brainstorming sessions, developing and crafting our mask creation. Friday night the masks were part of a show and auction to raise funds for scholarships through NEWH Los Angeles.
The winning bid for our mask was $1600 from Lusive Decor - the lighting manufacturer was also one of our mask sponsors. Many thanks to Lusive Decor and Jim Thompson Fabrics for providing the materials for our mask.
Here's our mask's design process.
This week, the US project teams are in Hong Kong for client meetings and are sharing space with the Hong Kong team in a tiny field office.
The WATG Hong Kong Team: Perry Brown, Tom Fo, Mark Kowalski, Allen Hung, Aaron Ho, Delbert Ragland,
WATG Irvine: Greg Villegas, Sharmila Tankha, Matt Page
WATG Honolulu: Harvey Maruya, Carlos Meyer, Tiffany Lee
Ron Van Pelt (WATG Singapore) and Margaret McMahon (Wimberly Interiors NYC) also graced us with their presence.
In all thirteen of us are sitting elblow to elbow in a tight, but comfortable work space.
"It takes thirteen to build a village." - Harvey Maruya
After nearly two years of waiting, the XiAn Terracotta hotel project is ready to start. The site is only a short five-minute walk from the famous Terracotta Warriors at the mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang, the first Emperor of China. The project's location will make it the closest hotel to this UNESCO World Heritage Site, creating the potential for three million visitors annually to have the opportunity to experience the hotel we are about to design.
From 11-15 November, we traveled to the site for a very intensive but fun design workshop. The charrette team members were Ardison Garcia, Carlos Meyer, Craig Takahata, and myself. Special thanks to Todd Nordstrom for providing research of the Qin dynasty and Emperor Qin Shihuang, as well as some conceptual ideas.
This is our client's first hotel development. One of our goals for our client is to differentiate the hotel from all other hotels in the region by applying a unique design approach and creating a bold statement, thus helping to set their hotel apart.
Our team's keyword for this project is "redefine." And the three keywords from our client are "culture," "history," and "modern."
If everything goes as well as our charrette, this will be an amazing project.
It's no surprise when well-conceived architecture weathers the passage of time and through the course becomes weaved with the history of a place. Such is the case of the Peninsula Manila or as the locals fondly refer to as the Manila Pen.
On a recent trip to the Philippines, our Singapore BD Manager, Kai Seah, and I had an opportunity to visit the hotel and pay homage to the very first hotel project that WATG designed in the country.
I've only been to the hotel once before, long before I joined WATG. I only know this hotel from the stories of the man who designed it--Don Fairweather, a student of Frank Lloyd Wright and was one of WATG's notable partners until he retired several years ago. As a young designer, I had the privilege to work and traveled with Don to far-flung places; it was those occasions when Don told and retold his fascinating experience and adventures in the Philippines in the 1970s during the design and construction of the Manila Pen.
After 36 years since its opening, the Pen's grand and spacious lobby hasn't failed to impress its guests. It epitomizes classic hotel lobby design--formal, elegant and exact; an impressive and large living room that is a prelude to the social and function spaces the hotel has to offer.
Throughout its history, the hotel has been host to exclusive, famous public and private social events. As recent as six years ago, it also unceremoniously became the setting for a military uprising; its grand lobby sacrilegiously turned into an armored tank parking lot. Such is the case of a hotel that has become an icon in the business center of the Philippines.
The exterior architecture, unfortunately, has seen better days. Its bush-hammered and exposed concrete aggregate façade have not been spared from the dirty metropolis air. But interestingly enough, an architect like me can easily squint his eyes and see the strong bones of a modernist architecture--clean, bold vertical elements contrasted with horizontal bands at the top floors. A sensitive and thorough re-façade may just be what it takes to bring this landmark building to the present.
Walking around the Pen, I find it fascinating and noteworthy that WATG has had a presence in the Philippines for quite a long time. And within those nearly 40 years, we have had wonderful built projects, great client relations, and the privilege and satisfaction of designing memorable places that lift the human spirit.