Dec 15, 2021
We're back! Enjoy this new episode and many more coming in 2022!
In this episode of the Hotel Design Podcast, we welcome Glen Coben, President and Owner of Glen & Company. Coben is a huge driving force within the hotel design community, and brings a unique point of view from the retail environment where he previously worked with Nike.
They start by discussing his background, and how stories are told in various sporting cultures globally. Coben reveals how he keeps things fresh by continuing to add to his project’s design dialogue. Take an example regarding how he designed two different Italian restaurants and how his firm focused on ensuring that each one was distinctly unique. The goal: Be unrecognizable in the work from one project to another, since each is a wholly different experience!
Coben and Glenn also discuss the Adelphi Hotel in Saratoga Springs, NY, where Coben shares the story of revitalizing the last remaining grand hotel in Saratoga Springs. The five-year hotel renovation project took on a life of its own, finding inspiration from existing classic interiors, without reinventing them. For example, original crystal serving dishes were turned into a beautiful backdrop behind the front desk to create a sense of place and time. The firm also reinvented the floor plan, expanding small out of date bathrooms into much larger spaces, and cutting the room count almost in half during the process to create a more luxurious property. Coben, it turns out, loves complicated and intricate types of design projects like that one.
Glen and Company also created the Pestana – a modern property inspired by Portuguese roots – which is located in New York City. The unique part of this design was their approach to heightening the feel of space in a footprint limited in size. We learn how Coben and his team were able to create the illusion of space, along with some of their great design tips.
He also focuses on how to be disciplined when it comes to creating a coherent and streamlined story from which the hotel’s design is built upon, specifically by sharing examples from the Archer. They discuss reinventing space to accentuate the dining experience by bringing it into the hotel, rather than hiding a restaurant where people do not actively see it. He also shares the story of how this hotel was based on a made-up character named Archer who loved art, music, and travel. They used this narrative to create a space that connected back to their envisioned Archer.
Another project is the James Newbury Hotel in Coxsackie, NY - an old structure on the banks of the Hudson River in an industrial town. To reinvent this hotel, its history was the inspiration for its future, and Coben shares how they chose the elements of design to tell the story for this property. Once it has opened, it will have 46 rooms that connect to an older structure that houses the spa. Coben also discusses reinventing how guest rooms are laid out to change the focal point of the experience.
Coben ends with his thoughts on how he knows when a building needs to be taken down and completely redone and when it can be upgraded. He says that young designers can become better storytellers by not relying on social media, but by going out and experiencing life and new spaces. He says that we must put the story on paper and keep looking at the details.