Since the debut more than a decade ago of the W hotel chain, the contemporary lifestyle brand of the Starwood hospitality empire has always used design and architecture—as well as a hip attitude—to attract guests from the worlds of media, fashion, and entertainment. With 36 hotels already in the lineup and a raft of openings now under way to nearly double its footprint and expand its residential offerings, W is again highlighting design as a brand-builder and location signifier.

The new W Hollywood Hotel & Residences, for example, at the legendary corner of Hollywood and Vine, was conceived as a tribute to the movie industry and the celebrity culture and city that surround it. “Imagery is so important for Hollywood,” says Eddie Abeyta, design director for the W Hollywood project at Dallas-based HKS Architects. “So we tried to connect the forms and architectural expression with what everyone has in their mind about Hollywood.”

The 15-story development includes a 300-room hotel and a separate tower with 144 condos, in attached buildings made of conventional glass, aluminum, and architectural precast. But a number of design details, materials, and decorative features provide a requisite shot of glamour. Most appropriately, guests approach the hotel on a red carpet made of terrazzo with custom-made integral red aggregate. A two-story glass wall facing the hotel lobby (or “living room” in W-speak) features a retractable screen for showing movies, which transforms the façade into a giant silver screen.

The layout of the hotel provides spaces for both public gawking and secluded dealmaking. Because the site sits atop a busy Metro Rail stop, riders can catch a glimpse of Hollywood bigwigs at work as they approach the escalators. On the second and third floors, rooms have been converted into special spaces for press-only junkets with celebrities. The lobby, with its dramatic circular staircase (very Fontainebleau, as some critics have pointed out) and a chandelier (by Portland, Ore.–based Designstudio Ltd.) with cascading Swarovski crystals, is pure Hollywood.

By comparison, two New York–area W hotels and another in downtown Atlanta are all cool corporate sleekness, in line with W’s typically minimalist aesthetic, with some interventions to break the mold.

On the New Jersey waterfront, the W Hoboken Hotel & Residential Condominiums is a 26-story wedge-shaped metal-and-glass tower by New York–based Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects. The north and south façades feature a sawtooth pattern formed by angled bay windows in the hotel’s midsection. This approach lends a distinctive pattern to the exterior while the bay windows enhance the room experience so guests “don’t feel they are in a module or a box,” says principal Robert Siegel. Across the river at the W New York–Downtown Hotel & Residential Condominiums, also by Gwathmey, the soaring 57-story tower features a glass curtain wall with a pattern of white, gray, and clear panels, as well as a lobby terrace fronting the World Trade Center Memorial.

For the Atlanta W, New Haven, Conn.–based architects Pickard Chilton chose a reflective glass and aluminum curtain-wall system, and bisected the otherwise boxy tower in the Allen Plaza office complex with a slit at floor 16—separating the hotel from the condos—to provide space for a pool and spa with city views. “The goal was a high-profile hotel in the heart of the leading city in the Southeast,” says principal Jon Pickard. That vision included a rooftop helipad, which, he adds, “provides a little more panache” and a discreet entry for arriving A-list guests.

Unique touches at each of its locations are what make W a savvy brand: Hire different architects who know the area, target the likely traveler, add a trendy name, and you turn each hotel into a destination.

W Hollywood Hotel & Residences
Project Credits

Project W Hollywood Hotel & Residences
Client Gatehouse Capital/HEI Resorts & Hotels
Architect HKS
Interior Designer (residences) Daly Genik Architects
Interior Designer (hotel) Architropolis (early phase); Myhre Group (middle phase); Designstudio w/Lee & Sakahara (final phase)
Interior Designer (restaurant) Zeff Design
Mechanical Engineer Critchfield Mechanical
Structural Engineer DCI Engineers
Electrical Engineer Rosendin Electric
Civil Engineer Fuscoe Engineering
Geotechnical Engineer Golder Associates
General Contractor Webcor Builders
Landscape Architect Rios Clementi Hale Studios
Signage Sussman/Prejza
Lighting Kaplan Gehring McCarroll Architectural Lighting
Art Lendrum Fine Art
Food Service Ricca/Newmark
Acoustics Charles M. Salter Associates; Acoustonica (hotel interiors)
Security Niscayah
Exterior Building Maintenance C.S. Caulkins Co.
Elevator Consultant Lerch Bates
Size 969,726 gross square feet

Material & Sources

Coatings GE

Building Management Systems Siemens
Carpet Atlas Carpet Mills; Design Origins; Masland Carpets; Fabrica Fine Carpets & Rugs
Exterior Wall Systems Werner Systems (curtain wall); Clark Pacific (precast); STO (plaster)
Glass Oldcastle
Gypsum USG; Georgia/Pacific
HVAC Critchfield Mechanical
Lighting iWorks; Hallmark Lighting; Lightolier; Elliptipar; Translite-Sonoma; Vision 3 Lighting; G Lighting; Kurt Versen; Specialty Lighting Industries
Stone Cold Spring Granite
Paints and Finishes Frazee
Roofing Siplast
Wallcoverings Wolf Gordon; MDC Wallcoverings

W New York–Downtown Hotel & Residential Condominiums
Project Credits

Project W New York Downtown Hotel & Residential Condominiums
Developer The Moinian Group
Architect Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, New York—Robert Siegel, Charles Gwathmey (principals-in-charge); Gregory Karn (senior associate)
Associate Architect Avinash K. Malhotra Architects
Construction Manager Tishman Construction
Structural Engineer Rosenwasser/Grossman Consulting Engineers
M/E/P Engineer Cosentini Associates
Geotechnical Engineer Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers
Exterior Wall & Roofing Israel Berger & Associates
Landscape Architect Thomas Balsley Associates
Vertical Transportation Van Deusen & Associates
Expediter Jerome S. Gillman Consulting Architects
Size 390,000 gross square feet

W Hoboken Hotel & Residential Condominiums
Project Credits

Project W Hoboken Hotel & Residential Condominiums, Hoboken, N.J.
Developer Ironstate Development Co.
Architect & Interior Designer Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, New York—Robert Siegel, Charles Gwathmey (principals-in-charge); Dirk Kramer, Steven Forman, Gregory Karn,
Thomas Florkewicz (associates)
General Contractor AJD Construction
Structural Engineer Goldstein Associates
M/E/P Engineers Cosentini Associates
Civil Engineer LGA Engineering
Geotechnical Engineer Mueser Rutledge Consulting Engineers
Landscape Architect Melillo & Bauer Associates
Lighting Designer Hillmann DiBernardo Leiter & Castelli
Food Service Romano Gatland
Acoustics Harvey Marshall Berling Associates
Fire Protection R.J. Bartlett Engineering; Rolf Jensen & Associates
Cost Estimator Hanscomb Faithful & Gould
Specifications Construction Specifications
Size 360,000 gross square feet
Cost $110 million

W Atlanta Downtown Hotel & Residences
Project Credits

Project W Atlanta Downtown Hotel & Residences, Atlanta
Developer/Owner Barry Real Estate Cos.
DesignArchitect Pickard Chilton, New Haven, Conn.
Architect of Record HKS, Atlanta
Interior Design Burdifilek
Restaurant Design CCS Architecture
Structural Engineer Uzun & Case
M/E/P Engineer Jordan & Skala Engineers
Civil Engineer Kimley-Horn
Landscape Design HGOR
Lighting Design Quentin Thomas Associates
General Contractor Hardin Construction
Curtain Wall Consultant CDC
Curtain Wall Manufacturer JAMCo.
Size 430,000 square feet