Page D3.2 . 10 November 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Design Department
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    W Hotel Mexico City


    Cocktail parties, business meetings, and dinner dates are visible from, and therefore become part of, the streetscape, just as the urban activity outside enlivens the building interior. Exterior and interior spaces adjacent to the glass facades contain actors as well as viewers, each relating to their counterpart on the other side and creating an interplay of voyeurism.

    The spatial and visual fluidity continues through the lounges, restaurants, lobby, and out into the street itself. Few walls are used in these areas, and even the stairs have open risers. Half-levels simultaneously separate and join spaces, once again playing into the flow of space and sight while diners watch loungers and vice versa.

    Even the spa has an open design. The centerpiece temazcal volume and a single corridor of rooms defined by sliding colored glass are the only solid spatial divisions.

    Lasting Impressions

    Without traditional walls, the architects of KMD Mexico and Studio GAIA focused on the use of material, texture, color, light, level changes, and intermittent volumes to create the intimate spaces within the open design. These public areas not only work extremely well, but also manage to be complex without being complicated.

    It is no surprise that the W Hotel Mexico City has become "the" place to go since its opening last year. As if to confirm its blossoming reputation, the hotel recently won the 2004 national interiors best-of-all-categories award from the Mexican Association of Interior Designers.

    Indeed, the interior is what's best about this building. While the tower may be a visible addition to the skyline and the exterior use of recinto may be unusual, the building exterior is relatively unremarkable.

    But that may be the point: the uniqueness happens inside. The big red "W" coupled with the five-story glass display case may pull you in, but it's the fluid, mesmerizing, and skillfully intertwined spaces that keep you. The architecture enforces rather than upstages the brand, creating an abundance of unique places within the outer shell.

    Leigh Christy is a designer with John Friedman Alice Kimm Architects in Los Angeles.


    Discuss this article in the Architecture Forum...


    ArchWeek Image

    The new W Hotel in Mexico City, by KMD Mexico. The guestroom tower rests on a five-story glass base.
    Photo: KMD

    ArchWeek Image

    Lighting design and subtle volumetric shifts reduce the street-side scale of the entry.
    Photo: KMD

    ArchWeek Image

    Recinto, a local volcanic stone, covers all planes of the entry lobby.
    Photo: KMD

    ArchWeek Image

    Public floors are broken into half-levels to foster differing degrees of privacy and interaction.
    Photo: KMD

    ArchWeek Image

    Sleek design at the W Hotel in Mexico City.
    Photo: KMD

    ArchWeek Image

    The fourth story of the glass volume houses a spa, workout area, and adjacent terrace.
    Photo: KMD


    Click on thumbnail images
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