October 25, 2013

Sense of Place: Grand Hyatt Shenyang in China

Modern architecture and local sense of place don’t always go hand in hand, but the design by Hirsch Bedner Associates (HBA) for the 353-room Grand Hyatt Shenyang, which opened in July 2013 in Northeast China, manages to combine inviting “homey” design with the city’s industrial heritage.

“Shenyang is hard-working industrial city, sometimes bleak and often cold and alienating, “ explains Connie Puar, partner at HBA, Singapore. “Creating a sense of order and understanding was key. Echoing the brutal landscape, a palette of past-industrial materials and forms were incorporated: steel, concrete, stone and wood.” And yet for all the high-impact design of the Grand Hyatt Shenyang’s public spaces, with their soaring ceilings and dramatic arrival experience, the hotel’s spacious rooms (which start at 452 square feet) are surprisingly soft and cocoon-like. “It was intentional,” says Puar. “Shenyang has an extremely long winter, so it was very important to create a warm and comfortable ambience in the rooms, as a hideaway from the cold and harshness.”

Shenyang’s manufacturing culture inspired the 40-foot-tall bronze screen comprised of interlocking metal rectangles that dominates the arrival lobby. White stone sculptures set on lofty ledges illustrate “life” in Shenyang. The 25th-floor Sky Lobby echoes the bronze elements, but is softened by the addition of carpets done in violet inspired by the Qing dynasty and wispy patterns of orange inspired by the peony, a royal flower. Like the guest rooms, the hotel’s meeting areas were rethought with the addition of loft kitchens and bars to make them feel more like a second home. Notes Puar, “They, too, are living rooms in which the guests can work and play.”

When work is over, guests can retreat to the hotel’s Spa, where treatment all rooms have an indoor veranda overlooking a Zen garden. “The spa experience is not rushed,” she notes. “The holistic experience from start to end is seamless within a private suite.” Wellness in the Grand Hyatt Shenyang’s playbook is dual-pronged. “The guest will be able to experience moments of drama and calmness within the hotel,” says Puar. “It’s important to strike the balance.”

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