PortfolioThe Bentley Suite at the St. Regis New York
New York, New York, USA
Game faces on.
Waiting for the gunfire.
And the Runners were off!
Bloomberg held its First Asian Leg of the Square Mile Relay challenge and WATG Singapore Office was there in a heartbeat.
A total of 160 Teams of 10 members each participated in this event set at The Promontory - Marina Bay Singapore on the 24th October 2013.
Though most of our team members were not really fit to run the race (speaking for myself) we managed to get to the finish line without passing out (or walking where the other team members could see us). Team members comprised of Myself, Mark Anthony Lagunzad; Ronaldo Lopez Josue; Yih Hsiu Yeo; Michael Pua; Reena Bapat; Natalie Shea Faber; Ashique Zaman; Ahnanchana Srichamara and Dave Moore.
Looking forward to next year's race! Training starts tomorrow!
Congratulations to the entire Park Hyatt Ningbo team for winning a design award at the 2013 AIA Honolulu Design Awards Gala held at the Hawaii Prince Hotel. Park Hyatt Ningbo won an award of merit, and was the only hospitality project to win an award this year.
Each winner presented their project in a compressed Pecha Kucha style (15 slides, 15 seconds per slide). George Berean and Ruoyun Sun accepted the award on behalf of WATG, and presented the project (A copy of the presentation can be viewed here).
Some notable facts about the project:
• The site is organized as a traditional Chinese water village, to blend discretely into the surrounding vista. The natural landscape surrounding the resort sets the stage for the guests' arrival.
• Dong Qian Lake is the largest freshwater lake in Zhejiang province and one of the most scenic area in the region. Lakefront gardens and rooms oriented toward the lake takes advantage of spectacular views.
• The use of courtyards serves as a point of transition from one area to another and as a place for social gatherings, and focuses on traditional Chinese gardens with a modern twist.
• The resort is formed by traditional cultural elements, refined and contemporized in an interpretation of Southern China style with the gently sloping roof and exposed wood beams.
• With interior decorations and strategically located fireplaces, great care has been taken to maintain a seamless definition between the exterior and interior components.
• Traditional materials, stone, stucco, slate, and gray roof tiles were used extensively as permanent materials.
• An ancient family home has been restored to its original architecture and converted into a Tea House located in the center of the hotel property.
• The 700-year-old red temple has been restored and converted to a restaurant/bar and entertainment venue, blending seamlessly into the property.
• Existing stones, sculptures and Chinese ornaments was salvaged and reused.
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.
I was recently honored to be asked by my alma mater, Ball State University, to attend part of the International Sustainable Campus Network (ISCN) conference 2013 in Singapore, held on the campus of the National University of Singapore. The conference hosted 100 participants representing 28 universities from 18 countries.
Professor Tommy Koh gave the keynote address during which he issued a challenge to the attendees to embrace a vision of campuses as eco-cities that set the standard that the world’s metropolitan areas emulate.
In my brief time at the conference I was struck by the passion and dedication the participants bring to their efforts to create sustainable, healthy campus communities. As to be expected from a gathering of people from around the world their starting points and progress vary widely. For some the challenge is staggering, for others merely challenging.
We heard first hand accounts of small victories such as instituting water conservation techniques to success stories about newly built, net-zero energy buildings.
I took away two key points of discussion which are applicable in many of the contexts in which we at WATG find ourselves each day:
1. Values vs. value.
Reaching people by appealing to the value an idea brings to the table isn't always successful if it isn't relatable or quantifiable. Sometimes a more successful approach is to show how an idea has a direct relationship to a person’s values.
2. The analogy of a barn raising vs prefab barn in approaching a project.
The term 'barn raising,' which is a communal effort at constructing a barn, was used as an example of a way to involve as many parties as possible so that they become personally invested in a project. In contrast, a 'prefab' approach where construction of a building is done largely off site and 'appears' in place excludes many potential partners and doesn’t create a lasting, meaningful relationship to a given project.
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).
Last week, I was invited to attend the 2013 Hawaii Business Black Book Event -- sort of. Actually, our CEO, Mike Seyle was originally invited as this was an event for CEOs, but since Mike is in California, the event organizers scratched off his name from the invitation and wrote my name in his place.
In addition to rubbing elbows with Honolulu's top CEOs, I had the privilige of meeting NFL legends: Marcus Allen, Mike Haynes, John Lynch, and Eric Dickerson.
And a few other NFL employees.
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