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.
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.
Despite the typical British summer weather (yes, grey skies and light rain) the mood was bright! WATG's event entitled "On the flipside" challenged visitors to create simple animations and rediscover the joy of quick sketching.
We managed to attract a number of eager participants, both young and old, to pick up their pens and exercise their creativity in the studio.
Quick tours around the office to showcase our current work and projects, as well as some refreshing Pimms and lemonade, were on offer and greatly enjoyed by all!
A huge well done to the team for all the preparations in the run-up to the event, and to those whom helped host on the day, making our first LFA event a great success!
WATG LFA event team: Arvind Kannan, Ioannis Kappos, Stefano Roman, Gregg Cornforth, Nick Carrier, Chin Lim, Nicole Hammond, Deborah Rosenblum, Edouard Gillon, Franciso Van Kesteren and Jacqui King
More photos from our event can be seen on our Flickr page.
Animations are posted here.
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.
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).
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.