Category Archives: Hospitality

ECO a 2015 Design Is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Here, Dagmar von Schwerin addresses the design process for ECO in Boston, MA.


Describe this project in one word.


How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?

Designed for young urban professionals, ECO offers relatively compact units balanced by a variety of common spaces available for use by tenants and their visitors. These gathering spaces support the connectivity and community sought by today’s younger residents.

Flooded with natural light and accented with the warmth of wood, bold red accents and surprises of texture in furnishings and carpeting, ECO’s crisp design creates a welcoming environment for social gatherings. The 24/7 activity in the common spaces – located at the entry, the rooftop and top corner of the building – activates the building, letting neighbors know that the lights are on and “someone is home”.

All aspects of the project were specifically designed to advance the Green District’s theme of eco-friendly living, established as a core design principal for this new, sustainable city neighborhood. It is one thing to build a sustainable building, but if the people who live in it do not live sustainably, the effort is only partially successful. In the Green District, residents sign a “Green Lease”, agreeing to adhere to a sustainable lifestyle including the use of on-site recycling and composting, free hydration stations throughout the building to cut down the use of plastic water bottles, car charging, public transportation, and on-site bike and car sharing. The integration of these sustainable options into the building’s design helps ensure that ECO achieves its full eco-friendly potential.

The elegant, modern look and feel of the project, and its clear focus on sustainable living, generated tremendous interest in the community, with all units leased before opening day.


Design is a process. Explain your journey.

ECO is the culmination of an ambitious and highly successful development conceived by The Mount Vernon Company of Boston. As the final new building in Allston’s “Green District”, ECO offers a stylish, urban alternative for those seeking eco-friendly, middle income rental opportunities.

PCA’s work with the developer, The Mount Vernon Company, began here with The Edge, a new 79-unit apartment building. Concurrently PCA was asked to upgrade and retrofit façades and building exteriors within the Green District to support the look and feel of the new neighborhood.

The design evolved with every new project, with each building developing a unique style to provide variety and choice to prospective renters. The Edge was designed with an “industrial chic” feel, in contrast to the more traditional themes of the Element apartment building (not designed by PCA) and existing multi- and single family housing in the District.

ECO’s design in turn was inspired by Scandinavian architecture, with clean simple lines and a fresh palette, playful lighting, pops of color, comfortable iconic furniture and the warmth of wood. The continuity of some of the exterior materials used at ECO, such as brick and metal panel, ties ECO back to its neighbors in its urban context. New accents, like the strong blue of the fiber cement clapboards and the pops of red in the fitness room skylights, make a stronger statement about modern style and attitude. The furnishings of the common spaces, visible from the street, further emphasize this approach.


What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow?

When designing residential spaces, it is critical to think about how they will be received long term by a variety of audiences. Designing to current trends can quickly date a building. Aim to use high quality materials to create flexible, clean, neutral environments that residents can customize to their liking.

Well programmed and designed public space fosters a sense of community. Comfortable furniture is key. For people to spend time in these spaces they need to feel like they are at home.

Sustainability resonates with today’s young urban professionals – they truly want to “walk the talk”. ECO proves the viability of high quality, contemporary, housing designed specifically to promote eco-friendly living. In addition to being fully leased on opening day, the three new Green District buildings sold for $147.5 million in March of 2015, the second largest apartment transaction in the Boston’s history.

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King Edward Hotel Model Room a 2015 Design is…Award Market Winner

Shaw Contract Group conducted interviews with all firms representing Market-Award winning projects from the 2015 Design Is…Award program. As part of this process, we share a portion of the response on our blog for readers to learn more about the winning projects.  These are their stories.

Katie Weber shared insight from this design process with us.

Describe this project in one word. Luxurious.


How does this project demonstrate how design can impact users in a space?Great design is like chemistry: we mix elements, textures and colours in an effort to elicit a physical response from, in this case, the hotel guest. Understanding that the King Edward hotel is Toronto’s first luxury hotel, we endeavored to immerse the guest in timeless elegance that creates a sense of calm but is at the same time, dynamic.

Design is a process. Explain your journey. At MDAI we embrace and incorporate a property’s unique qualities – creating spaces that look forward while giving a subtle nod to the past.

What are the most important lessons you’ve learned through this project that you’d want to share with the designers of tomorrow? There is a tendency to want to put a modern face on a property when doing a full renovation. We’ve learned that rather than masking the character, you should embrace it; that’s where the interest lies.

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Popping up at TED 2014: Shaw Hospitality Group’s Layered Luxe


The 2014 TED conference housed attendees at its new pop-up theater – designed to be rapidly assembled and disassembled annually.  Constructed in a six-day feat of logistics, this innovative structure relied on the capabilities and trust of manufacturers, fabricators and installation crews.

A total of 600 modular boxes were built in a warehouse in Vancouver, then shipped to the site. All had to be made strong enough to give the theater structural stability, but light and small enough for workers to move them around and to fit through 12-foot wide doors.  The assembly took six days and two crews of 30, each working 12-hour shifts on an hour-by-hour deployment plan to construct the structure.

The theater’s furniture, shipped from Steelcase, was installed in only 12 hours.  Designer David Rockwell relied on Shaw Hospitality Group for the carpet – not only to manufacture and ship the material in time for the event, but also for the design.  On the floor is “Crease” from the Layered Luxe Collection, which was designed in collaboration with Rockwell himself.

Watch a time lapse video of the construction of the Next Chapter Theater at TED2014.

TED2014 Theater Timelapse from Rockwell Group on Vimeo.

A theater that can be dissembled, stored and reassembled in future years seems to make sense for TED Conference, where the world’s most thought provoking and captivating speakers on technology, entertainment and design converge.

Read more about the design of the TED2014 Next Chapter Theater here.

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David Rockwell Drew on Personal TedTalk Experience to Design the Next Chapter Theater for TED2014

TED celebrated its 30th anniversary by moving the annual TED Conference from Long Beach to a temporary theater installed within the Vancouver Convention Center.  Designed by David Rockwell of The Rockwell Group, The Next Chapter Theater is a portable 1,200-seat theater that was designed to enhance the speaker and audience experience, and will be reinstalled in the years ahead.

“I have spoken [at TED] and have had that experience of: your talk is influenced by how you feel in the room. The environment affects how the talk evolves,” says Rockwell.

David Rockwell’s talk at TED2002 on the memorial at Ground Zero influenced his design of The Next Chapter Theater.

The bowl of the theater is steeply raked to ensure that in a room of 1,200, the farthest distance from the speaker is a mere 80 feet, helping the speaker better see and feel the audience’s reactions and allowing audience members to immerse themselves more deeply in the talks.  By comparison, Hollywood’s Ford Amphitheater, which is lauded for its intimacy, has a 96-foot distance from the farthest seat to the stage.

“TED is a combination of theater and festival,” says Rockwell, “…we’re creating from scratch a theater designed around a talk. [It’s] like going back to the roots of theater. No one’s done a theater solely based on a talk.”

The intimate TED2014 theater was built in just under a week and was constructed from 600 modular boxes and flooring and furniture donations from Shaw Hospitality Group and Steelcase.  The carpet is from Shaw Hospitality Group’s Layered Luxe collection, which was also designed in collaboration from Rockwell.

Read more about the construction of the TED2014 Next Chapter Theater here.

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Emerging Hotel Trends Offer Work/Life Balance

In the December 2013 issue of Hospitality Design Magazine, Martin Raymond of UK-based retail and hospitality brand consultancy group, Future Laboratory, explores developing trends in the industry. Among these trends, hotel brands appealing to two different types of global travelers in the 45 and younger demographic: the Bleisure and LATTE crowds.

The 25- to 35-year-old demographic that “blur the lines between business and pleasure.” Who’s specifically designing for this group? Pullman Hotels and Resorts in France. After extensive research, Pullman found that 85 percent of travelers say that technology allowing them to work remotely has merged their personal and professional lives; 79 percent believe this is a positive change.


Pullman Hotels’ London property features the Business Playground, designed by Mathieu Lehanneur. The area reflects the “work hard, play hard” brand mantra by including innovative spinoffs of traditional boardroom finishings. The main conference table features a poker table-esque leather edge for comfort and attendee engagement during long meetings.


Guests can briefly unwind from screen time by relaxing under a canopy break, an oversized digital nature-inspired lampshade. These small details are designed to spark creativity and remove the barrier between work and play.

The 35- to 45-year-old crowd seeking Local, Authentic, Traceable, Trusted and Ethical hospitality brands. The LATTE crowd values a work/life balance and wants this equilibrium in their lives, according to Future Laboratory’s trend research. Research shows LATTEs feel overwhelmed by technology and want to occasionally escape the Internet.


Who’s designing for LATTEs? The Renaissance Pittsburgh where guests can choose the Zen and Art of Detox package. When checking in, travelers leave their computers and cell phones at the front desk. The rooms have no TV or telephone but are stocked full of books and board games, allowing families to reconnect without digital interference.

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