In this episode of the Hotel Design Podcast we welcome Tom Ito, Principal at Gensler. Tom Ito is a force in the hotel design community and created the hospitality division of Gensler back in the late 1990s. Since then, it has been a whirlwind of creating some of the most incredible hotel designs we’ve ever seen – some of which have had far more impact than the building itself.

Tom Ito and host Glenn Haussman start by discussing downtown Los Angeles and the impact that the L.A. Live development created for AEG, and its J.W. Marriott and Ritz Carlton hotels. This project set off a storm of development transforming the entire neighborhood in subsequent years. They delve into details regarding that project, the ones that came after, such as the Hotel Indigo Los Angeles Downtown, as well as an 800-room expansion of the hotel that is set to be built shortly.

They talk about the reinvention of how hotel public spaces are used, tying in the notion of the third place – where people hang outside of work and home. Glenn calls it the Great Convergence, and the conversation shifts to how to create instant communities of people in those public spaces.

Then they discuss expanding the design dialogue to avoid homogeneity, a problem that is infecting many designs. They use Moxy as an example here in creating properties that are appealing to a specific group. They talk about balancing loud spaces, meeting spaces, public spaces and more to create a diversified offering both within and outside brand standards.

The conversation then shifts to a survey Gensler conducted on ethnographic and qualitative analysis on design and experience, and the roles they play. This episode shares how that has affected the way Ito and his team create.

They also go over design and efficiency regarding to how a property operates once it’s up and running. The conversation also focuses on designing for different cultures and how a hotel in Mecca would differ from one in Greece or Boston. They also discuss the notion of Feng Shui and its design effect.

If that’s not enough for you, The Mayfair is discussed, which brought a Los Angeles hotel from 1929 back to life. Glenn stayed there and they go over the concept of reinventing a historic property for a modern era.

Finally, they wrap up with their thoughts on technology and how it’s affected not just the guest experience, but overall how hotels are designed. Listen now!

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