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Hot Spots

June 2, 2016

We spoke to a few (busy) principals, who filled us in on what cities around the globe are starting to awaken.

Patrick O’Hare, Partner, EDG

For EDG, the Pacific coast of Mexico is one of the fastest developing areas right now. From Cabo San Lucas to Puerto Vallarta, this coastal region is gaining in popularity due to its exotic locale, friendly residents, and quick accessibility for vacationers. New luxury retreats, hotels, and beautiful resorts are catering to those looking to both live and play in Mexico.

Manny Dominguez, Principal of Cooper Carry’s Hospitality Studio

Rapid growth continues in the Middle East, especially in regions such as Abu Dhabi, Egypt, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia where there is tremendous spending power. Developer Muzoon Holdings is underway on one of Dubai’s latest retail projects: the Esplanade. Designed by Cooper Carry, the 140,000-square-foot retail center is set to open in early 2017. Its open-air, walkable design will attract guests in the evening when temperatures cool. The project consists of 10 individual retail buildings with intimate gathering spaces between them, and a central plaza with restaurant patios spilling into the common area. About 70 percent of the tenants are expected to be restaurant and food vendors.

Christina Hart,, ASID, IIDA, LEED AP

Senior principal, director of hospitality
interiors, HOK New York

Riyadh, Saudi Arabia is experiencing tremendous growth in both the hospitality and commercial sectors, with new builds as well as renovations and refreshes occurring. This growth could be attributed to the region’s interest in diversifying its identity from oil to other industries, and to helping the city establish itself as a key center for culture and business. Businesses are relocating to the city’s center and plans are underway to implement a new public transportation system. In addition to becoming more modernized, there is a huge demand for luxury hospitality properties with 20 plus four- and five-star properties opening. HOK is responsible for the interior re-design of the Al Faisaliah, one of The Leading Hotels of the World Ltd. The premier resort, which was built a decade ago by architect Lord Norman Foster, is located in a towering skyscraper and celebrated as one of Riyadh’s most impressive properties, catering to discerning business and international visitors. HOK
will create an original design concept for all 228 guests’ rooms as well as Premier Suites and two Royal Suites.

Colin Brice, Co-founder and co-principal, Mapos, LLC

One region we see growing with a lot of opportunity is New York State’s Hudson Valley. We are currently working on three other projects in upstate New York. One opening this summer is a conversion of an iconic road house in Ghent into a mixed-use country market and apartment house; two hospitality developments, one in Hudson, the other in southern Ulster County. Scheduled to open in the fall of 2017, both include hotel rooms, event space, high-end restaurants, and landscaped gardens. Many factors, we believe, can be attributed to the interest and growth in the rural communities of the Hudson Valley. The Hamptons and other beach communities have reached new heights in cost and may be reaching their peak in developable land. As New Yorkers (and Philadelphians and Bostonians) are turning their sights elsewhere, they are finding dozens of historic and picturesque towns lining both banks of the Hudson. Most of these areas have been subject to the prolonged upstate recession, leaving their historic building stock left virtually untouched. Add to that the thousands of square miles of rolling farmland, rugged mountains, and crystal clear rivers and lakes, all within two to three hours of New York City, it can become a difficult choice of where, exactly, to begin exploring.

Clark Pickett, Senior associate and interior designer, NBBJ

Since the Olympics in 2012, London and the surrounding areas have been awash in new design, of which the commercial sector has benefited the most. However, there has also been an increase in new construction in other sectors, namely healthcare, science, and education. In Cambridge, just outside London, NBBJ master planned a biotech park that is now moving forward. The project includes, among other things, two new science buildings, a private hospital and a hotel.

Michael Suomi, Principal and vice president of interior design, Stonehill & Taylor

Every time we visit Nashville we notice how much construction is being done in the city. It’s booming with new development. I believe there are a few reasons this is so: Nashville is a huge tourist destination, attracting more than 14 million visitors a year for leisure and business. The city has invested heavily in enhancing its urban core with new convention and sports centers, and has revitalized its riverfront. We’re currently working on the JW Nashville and a boutique hotel that will be part of Hyatt’s brands, both of which are in close proximity to the
convention center.

About the Author

AnnMarie Martin | Editor-in-Chief

AnnMarie has been covering the commercial design space since 2005 and has been on the editorial staff at i+s since 2011. Her style and vision has helped the brand evolve into a thought leader in purpose-driven design and cultural movements shaping the way we live and work. She returned to the role of editor in chief at the start of 2023 and her journalism and fiction writing background have helped to craft bi-monthly issues that don’t just report the latest industry news, but tell a cohesive tale of some of the biggest topics facing designers today.

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