Radisson Blu called upon the creative genius of Graven Images’ Jim Hamilton, the award-winning international designer who conceived the interior plans for Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago and Radisson Blu Mall of America, for the newly redesigned Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, Philadelphia. With the Philadelphia property, Hamilton looked to create a design that speaks to the landscape, history and culture of the city, ensuring it is relevant while keeping in mind the brand’s edgy and upper upscale characteristics.
Q: How has this project differed from the first two Radisson Blu properties in the states
JH: The Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, Philadelphia was the company’s first venture with a conversion in the states versus ground-up construction like in Chicago and Minneapolis. However, the first two properties have relied on a very strong presence in the public spaces, and Philadelphia was no exception.
Q: What was the approach to the public spaces and how did you make sure to integrate the building’s history?
JH: The building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and originally opened in 1926, so the approach was to neutralize some of those more ornate pieces and integrate some strong contemporary pieces that align with Radisson Blu hotels’ design ethos.There are a few features in the lobby we wanted to make sure we preserved, such as the interesting plaster features, the fireplaces, and the large windows have all remained intact.
Q: What do you consider the standout features of the new lobby?
JH: Standout features of the new lobby include predominant pendant lighting in a mix of pieces from Mooi (Dutch) and Bocci (Canadian). A feature rug of black and white text in the entrance lobby creates a level of curiosity for guests and complements two massive surface applied art installations on both bookend walls that encompass the two existing fireplaces, which now work. These two pieces set the overall tone of the room and reinforce Radisson Hotel Group's commitment to a strong contemporary art presence in each of its new Radisson Blu hotels.
Q: Can you discuss the meaning behind the rug and art installations?
JH: The graphic style of the rug and the walls are a contemporary take on the great railway boards of the past, and are a nod to the critical part Philadelphia played in establishing this great national heritage.
The rug references events, cultures, beliefs and influencers, consciously mixing metaphors to create slightly thought provoking, slightly tongue in cheek combinations. The rug also gives a slight nod to Scotland in terms of language and culture. Not just because of the origins of the design house who commissioned this piece, but more importantly because of the part the Declaration of Arbroath (The Scottish Declaration of Independence from 1320) played in the United States Declaration of Independence.
The word walls in the hotel lobby are a minor representation of the hotel's view of individuality and the brand's necessity to have a distinct sense of place. Each wall tells the same story through the eyes of two brothers born at the same time, separated only by the narrowest of margins. The walls reflect the times the brothers have lived through, their ambitions, their desires, rank, privileges, change, the events that have befallen them, opinions, personalities, differences, individuality, brotherly love, respect.
Q: What can you tell us about the rest of the furniture in the lobby?
JH: There is a long standing historical connection between Radisson Blu and Scandinavian design and architecture, and in particular Arne Jacobsen and Fritz Hansen. Expanding on this relationship we have used the brand new Ro chair from Fritz Hansen as the main lounge chair within the lobby. These are a series of gray, high back lounge chairs that physically encapsulate guests and afford both comfort and privacy when required. The Ro chairs are complemented by bespoke mirror polished stainless steel lounge tables with accessories by Dutch design aficionados Pols Potten.
The adjacent floors are occupied by two extra-large sofas from Roche Bobois upholstered in a wide mix of Missoni fabrics in different colors, patterns and textures. This is a little nod to Radisson Hotel Group's relationship with the Italian fashion brand.
There is also a large communal oak table and benches from Belgian contemporary furniture supplier Sempre.
The new reception area has two white composite stone clad pods with a complementary white porcelain floor tile and is now positioned at the back of the lobby near the elevators.
Q: Were any changes made to the exterior?
JH: There were slight changes made to the exterior including a new front awning which, because of the history, had to be the same length as the original. We also added up-lighting around the exterior to highlight the historic architecture and give a sense of arrival.
The Radisson Blu Warwick Hotel, Philadelphia marks the third Radisson Blu hotel in the United States, joining the Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel, Chicago and the Radisson Blu Mall of America near Minneapolis.