WATG aces design challenges of Covid-19

Hindsight has enabled WATG to incorporate lots of flexibility in their pipeline designs in order to adapt to any further black swan situations.

Park Hyatt Aviara

David M. Moore, President and CEO of WATG

Despite being hit very hard by the Coronavirus pandemic, developers in the travel and hospitality industry are still forging ahead while operators have quickly adapted to new behavioural requirements such as social distancing, one-way traffic flows, and the use of plexiglass, says David M. Moore, President and CEO of WATG.
“The vast majority of immediate changes when it comes to open and physical buildings have been operational in nature,” he adds.
However, with projects on-the-boards or under construction, the award-winning architectural firm has had the benefit of hindsight. It has been able to make some quick design adaptations such as meeting space configuration to allow for more flexibility in layout; greater emphasis on landscape architecture and designing more robust outdoor spaces which are always a strong revenue-generator in the appropriate climates.
Citing an example, Moore says: “In one of our master plans in the Middle East, we were able to quickly implement smart-city technology to enable contact tracing and adapting the public realm spaces to accommodate temporary shelters should the need arises again in the future.”
The firm is also speaking to clients about urban guestroom design that allows fresh air from open windows, in-room fitness space and microbial-resistant interior materials.

Flexibility is key

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“We are designing everything to be flexible enough to react to any new restrictions that may come into play – so operators can be highly efficient, owners will be profitable, and guests will be and feel safe.”
He continues: “For master planning where we’re designing new cities, towns and communities, we now know how to plan for another black swan situation – ensuring the public realm space, amenities and facilities are adaptable and appropriate. And for emerging markets, our designs are economically, environmentally and socially resilient for the local community.”
New trends in design now overwhelmingly prioritise personal health, wellness and safety. Hence, for WATG, its emphasis in architectural, landscape and interior design is in amplifying green/outdoor spaces and highly flexible multiuse interior spaces.
California-based WATG (Wimberly, Allison, Tong & Goo) is no stranger in the design world. Founded in 1945, the firm has designed over 400 built projects in 170 countries. Some of these are iconic projects including the 2018 Green Block project which aims to transform London into the world’s first ‘National Park City’.
Another is the “Curve Appeal” which won the Freeform Home Design Challenge with its world’s first 3D-printed house. In Asia, it was awarded the coveted Aga Khan Award in 1981 for the architectural design of Tanjong Jara Resort in Terengganu, Malaysia, thus cementing its position as a top architectural design firm.

Adaptations to Covid-19

Crowne Plaza Wuzhen

Below are two built and open project examples that opened in late 2020 and were able to quickly adapt interiors (Crowne Plaza Wuzhen) and landscape (Park Hyatt Aviara).
Crowne Plaza Wuzhen Wimberly Interiors, the interior design studio of WATG, has created a timeless prototype design for the Crowne Plaza Wuzhen, the new flagship Crowne Plaza hotel in China.
Located in one of the six famous ancient water towns south of the Yangtze River, the design brings the historical roots of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal to life through a modern lens. In particular, the guestroom design responded quickly to the changing needs of consumers following 2020 with optimized lighting and standing height desks which also serve as the mini-bar thus providing more spatial flexibility.
Park Hyatt Aviara Resort, Club & Spa, Carlsbad, California, USA
Park Hyatt Aviara

WATG and Wimberly Interiors collaborated in delivering a transformative design to this iconic Forbes Five-Star, AAA Five Diamond resort. The design touched all elements of the resort and incorporated the firm’s architecture, landscape architecture and Wimberly Interiors’ design creativity.
The resort opened in 2020 with expanded outdoor event and leisure spaces which have been designed to cater to families, couples and Southern California’s most elegant soirees and events.
The new event lawn features long trails of birds of paradise and a variety of succulents, as well as a preserved rose garden and mature palm trees that were part of the original site that WATG designed in the 1980’s.
A new pool area showcases a serene adult pool with luxurious cabanas as well as a family pool complete with a waterslide tower and tide pool splashpad.
As guests roam the grounds, they can instantly immerse in the grand estate-style environment, taking in the Californian ocean views.

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