PortfolioJumeirah Clearwater Bay Resort
Qingshui Wan, Lingshui, Hainan, China
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.
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.
The comfort dogs that they brought in to help ease the pain of children who survived the Sandy Hook tragedy last week brought tears to my eyes. As some of you may know, we here in the New York Studio are "dog people" and understand how the unconditional love of a dog can make all the difference. From our dear "Ellie" in our New York studio, to hanging out with "Darwin" a magnificent Great Dane in our Singapore studio (owned by talented designers Brook and Jason), there is great "dog energy" that abounds at WATG and Wimberly Interiors. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families affected by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut, and to reflect on these special moments and gifts of innocence that dogs can provide.
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.
The idea of a charity bike ride across Malaysia started as a dream around Christmas 2011. Back in January, Trans-Malaysia Express founder Richard Thevenon met with Jean-Francois Torrelle who is one of the key figures in long distance cycling in Asia and Europe to refine the idea.
Richard started a Facebook group and, in the space of two weeks, 30+ riders from around Asia expressed interest in participating. When it was announced that the ride will start in Thailand and finish in Singapore, an 800 km journey down the East Coast of Malaysia to be completed in less than 48 hours. All of a sudden, the numbers went down from over 30 to about 16.
The Trans-Malaysia Express aka TME was official.
The TME could have remained a ride amongst 16 nutters (and friends of course) but as a Charity ride we felt that we had to do a bit more promotion. Fellow rider Jeff Paine had the brilliant idea to talk to Tourism Malaysia and try to get them on board as our main partner. It happened that they were the most enthusiastic partner imaginable and they turned this small event into a major cycling event in Malaysia, offering all their expertise in planning the trip, providing police escort all the way (up to 2 cars and 4 motorbikes on some sections!), paramedics, and all the logistics.
Simultaneously David Kolpak, one of the most serious long distance riders in Singapore, came on board. His help with the planning and fundraising was unbelievable.
After 5 months of planning and fund raising, The Trans-Malaysia Express set-off from Thailand at 10 pm on Wednesday 31st May.
In addition to receiving extensive media coverage...
We raised more than $100,000 for "A New Vision," a charity which provides free cataract operations in Indonesia.
I would just like to say a massive thank you to all who supported and donated to my attempt to ride 800 km in 48 hours. For those of you who still want to donate, it's not too late. You can donate here until 31 August 2012.
At the airport after another invigorating day in Shanghai. Yesterday I delighted in the underground market exploration, similar to night markets but all underground. I made many friends through long negotiations. It's interesting how you slowly get moved from one room into another secret chamber as secret walls suddenly pivot and open up to slimy alleyways scattered with garbage and scurrying rats, and then into yet another layer of secret rooms; it's a bit scary being a woman who's alone, but also an adventure to remember... in retrospect, a bit too adventurous.
It was a relief going to Peninsula Hotel's luxurious shopping arcade with well-dressed security guards everywhere, and best of all, it was so wonderfully chilled! Not quite in my budget, but very elegant… nobody except security guards around; how do these luxury retail stores stay in business? The High Tea Lounge at the Peninsula is elegant and sophisticated, but has no view of the Bund. It looked somewhat similar to the High Tea Lounge at the Peninsula Hong Kong in Kowloon, but lacked the ambiance and inhabitation of guests as it was empty both times I went there.
After, I took a cab to the Xintiandi area, which is filled with charming old brick buildings, narrow side alleys, a rich variety of restaurants and small stores flanked by large shopping center with new and upcoming Chinese fashion designers on level 1. Relaxing while sweltering in the sticky heat, but fulfilled by inhaling such a wonderful quaint ambiance, I could definitely imagine opening a satellite office there...
After checking out of Les Suite Oriente Hotel, I took a cab to my next hotel: the Waterhouse Hotel. I must admit this alternative unusual boutique hotel is a rather intriguing and a very different experience. The building is a former army warehouse which has been roughly renovated--patched concrete walls and floors, narrow winding concrete stairs and remnants of old tile overlaid with quotes of famous writers. It has only 19 rooms, all with some sort of peek-a-boo or exhibitionist effects: reflecting shutters and/or large windows between public areas and guest rooms. My room was extremely small, with large windows along the 2 sides. One large window was facing the courtyard with controlled views and open mirrored shutters to some guest rooms and public areas across the narrow courtyard; the other turned out to face directly into the neighboring guest room some 4 feet across a narrow void, and the void further connected a peak into the lounge bar one floor below. Fortunately, drapery could control the limit of exposure.
Dinner was served on a long communal table at the hotel restaurant Table No.1, a small but amazing restaurant serving the most delicious taste sensations I have had for years. The restaurant consisted of 3 small 2-person tables and 4 long communal tables for 12 guests each with vintage Scandinavian furniture. This place is all about family style (sharing dishes); unfortunately, I had nobody to share with, but each dish was such an amazing tantalizing taste and ingredient combination: pate with truffles, scallops and a tiny dollop of black bean/vinegar reduction as appetizer, a main dish of sea bass dripped with a soy sprinkle, topped with smoked oysters, and dessert of mixed fresh berries (yes, raspberries...) with a raspberry reduction and green tea/lemon/tarragon sorbet sprinkled with edible flowers. The meal was a visual delight, a sensory feast, to be remembered. Very small servings make each bite extra special, and people-watching/listening is quite intriguing when dining by yourself.
Heavenly satisfied, I ventured upstairs through a series of narrow, chipped old winding concrete stairs with peeks to some guestrooms to the roof terrace, which turned out to be a very romantic rooftop lounge: an amazing location with the skyline of Shanghai and the black river dotted with brightly lit tour boats as backdrop. Soft candle lighting just barely lighting the lounge, it took a while to adjust to the dark but satiated experience. Corten steel bar and sunken maze-like small lounge pockets interlaced with herbal gardens for the restaurant enhance the views and create intriguing layered experiences. No wonder the food tasted so fresh at table #1! The sky was softly hazy and steamy hot, which added to the sensual layer of mystery and drama. It would be such a romantic place to have a cocktail with someone special! I seemed a bit out of sync being there by myself… after mentally recording the special experience, I ventured back down to the lounge to peruse Shanghai lifestyle magazines and books, lounging alone in an eclectic mix of retro Scandinavian furniture from the sixties blended with some over scale eclectic, modern accessories, while my favorite Blue Bar music was playing.
This morning I ventured into Old Shanghai Street, which is a very crowded Chinese tourist area. The smell of incense from a couple of old temples next to the entrances layered the already hazy air. I spotted narrow, colorful alleys with all kinds of Chinese artifacts--a wonderful visual feast for the eyes. Holding tight to my purse zipper, I tried to photograph them, but it was difficult as it was too crowded and hazy. A zigzag bridge leading across a koi fish garden was a popular photo point but too crowded to try and explore. Hawkers try to lead you upstairs to their pearl and jade stores, and probably to more obscure places if you are looking for purses. Different massage places offer exotic treatments such as hot wax ear massage, glass cupping and a Japanese-style massage where they lightly beat you with bundles of bamboo sticks. Not enough time to explore these offerings… it's time to head back to the hotel prior to going to the airport. Next stop: Guangzhou… the Hengqinwan Hotel.
Shanghai opened my eyes to an intriguing city so rich in history, yet booming and vibrant. What a great opportunity to explore the world while designing resorts! I just wish I had someone special with me to share the experiences. Writing them down will help me remember the special moments and maybe share them with special friends and colleagues.
With a few days forewarning, I recently found myself one Monday morning sitting on a 757 at LAX bound for JFK, instead of my normal commute from University Drive to Alton. Was it really Monday morning? A work day? What about the staff meeting? Thank God I turned my timesheet in on Friday. After surviving the security line and baggage carousel, I was magically transported to the tenth floor of a charming hotel room at 60 Thompson Street, NYC. I found a comfy chair next to the window of my room where I enjoyed a chicken salad and chamomile tea. Monday night? Really? As I looked out the window at the water tower, fire escapes and city skyline, I felt like it must be someone else occupying my body. It didn’t look anything like my home but I immediately felt at home.
I woke up energized and excited to navigate on foot to 75 Spring Street to see David, Margaret and their new digs! My brisk walk from 60 Thompson to 75 Spring felt like I was walking on the streets of a charming European city. I was surprised when the Starbucks Barrista said good morning instead of guten morgen or bonjour.
As the elevator opened into Wimberly Interiors, I was met with a welcoming hug by David, who gave me a tour of the beautiful space and quickly connected my laptop to our familiar intranet site Pete Street. One by one, I met the NY team as the morning unfolded. It was interesting to me that not one person drove a car to work. I loved my bright temporary NY workspace! The cubicle partitions are about one foot shorter than those in Irvine--providing separation yet good visibility to the windows + the team. The bright whites and oranges seemed to give off an energy of their own. I was also amazed by how quickly I felt at home with the team, who I now call my NY family. Amazingly, my three days there were very much like sitting in Irvine and very much the "Wimberly Way" I have known and loved for over 30 years … talent and energy galore! Thanks to our IS team, I actually was productive, at times, bouncing back and forth between our NY and Irvine computer worlds.
Before I knew it, three days of work (along with great food) had come to an end. I did not have time to see more than a half-mile of the actual city, but driving back to JFK, I was amazed to see how close the office and hotel are to the World Trade Center Memorial as it unfolded directly in front of the car for a minute or two, followed next by Lady Liberty with the sun on her head and fog at her feet … a perfect ending to a short trip + a reality check as to where I was and had been for a week -- really.
The major lesson I learned was the tremendous benefit of working day-to-day + face-to-face. Priceless, actually. I feel most fortunate and blessed to have been given this opportunity, especially meeting the NY team. Thanks to all my WATG/Wimberly Interiors family who made this experience possible + unforgettable.