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Skylab Architecture reveals the transformed W San Francisco (USA)

Project name:
W San Francisco
Architecture firm:
San Francisco, California, USA
Jason Dewey Photography; Brian Walker Lee
Principal architect:
Design team:
Jeff Kovel, Design Director. Brent Grubb, Managing Principal. Tony Tranquilli, Project Architect / Project Director. Sabrina Cheung, Project Designer / Construction Administration. Amy DeVall, Interior Designer. Eddie Peraza Garzon, Furniture Design. Julia Ahlet, Interior Designer. Nick Trapani, Project Designer.
Built area:
22,444 ft²
Site area:
Design year:
Completion year:
Model rooms construction: Plant Construction Company; Guest rooms and corridors construction: CW Horton General Contractor, Inc.; Lighting / Electrical / Plumbing Engineers: PAE; 3D room scans: 3rd Eye Visual; ADA: Marx | Okubo; Specifications: m.thrailkill.architect.llc; Hospitality vendor: Canoe Hospitality; LEED EBOM and Sustainability Consultant: WSP; Artwork: Solidarity of Unbridled Labour; Signage: Martinelli Environmental Graphics.
Interior design:
Skylab Architecture
Civil engineer:
Structural engineer:
Environmental & MEP:
Custom-designed carpet for guest rooms and corridors: design by Skyab; fabricated by Shaw. Bed throw and pillows, TV panel artwork, bathroom wall coverings: design by Solidarity of Unbridled Labour. Bathroom wall tile: ZYX Evoke. Custom casework: design by Skylab; fabrication by Cheng Meng Furniture
Keck Seng Group | North America
Hospitality, Hotel

W San Francisco is an electric urban oasis located in the bustling heart of San Francisco’s SoMa District. Boasting 401 guest rooms including 12 suites, the hotel offers a hip and stylish downtown retreat. As part of the highly anticipated Gold Fever hotel refresh, Skylab Architecture  was enlisted to design the guest rooms and major amenity spaces for a multi-phased renovation (the hotel lobby is slated for the next phase). The new Gold Fever design draws its inspiration from San Francisco’s remarkable region and rich history, abstracting elements from the past and present—including a healthy dose of funky elements from its psychedelic days—to marry history and culture with the hotel experience.

The rooms and suites surprise with a mischievous representation of San Francisco featuring gold spackle that marks opportunity and potential connections in the social web—illustrating a state-of-the-art experience.

After first developing the overall concept, dubbed Dynamic Fog, the design team investigated ways to play with San Francisco’s defining physical characteristics, including the hills, fog and street grid, and cultural attributes such as the city’s roots as a boomtown during the Gold Rush, and the epicenter of technology and innovation it is today – bringing together the past and the present. Interpreting and translating those ideas into materials, texture, color, and form layered the design with meaning.

The bright guest rooms feature a bespoke aesthetic that is relaxed and appropriate for sleep, work, and lounging. The design team developed three guest room configurations for corridor in-line and corner room options, with an additional penthouse suite design featuring a mix of bold solid surfaces and soft fabrics. The custom-designed bed features an oversized headboard incised with prismatic patterns.

The bed and side tables, also prismatic in form, are set slightly lower than standard, to visually enlarge the space. Other custom furnishings include built-in lounge seating, window seats, and counter-height desks which double as a standing workstation or in-room cocktail bar. Patterning found in the furnishings is also captured in soft surfaces, including bed throws and carpeting, the latter designed as a mischievous representation of the San Francisco trolley cables, with gold flakes symbolically embodying nodes of gathering and opportunity.

The walls appear to shimmer, recalling the way sunlight cuts through the city’s signature fog or the way gold dust sparkles. An additional five high-end “glamping” rooms, complete with exterior terraces, expand the notion of traditional guest rooms and bring the outside in and the inside out. Hallways and common areas received a similar treatment, including new carpeting and wall coverings.

Other phases included reworking the meeting and event spaces, such as FIT gym, an energy-charged fitness space and the Social Terrace. For the meeting spaces, adaptability was key, with new, fully-integrated, custom LED lighting systems enabling the rooms to adjust to specific functional demands, whether a corporate meeting or a wedding celebration. Walls and ceilings, are faceted as if origami, adding a subtle visual dynamism and helping to enhance sound performance. Carpeting, wall coverings, and furnishings—all with just the right amount of pattern and sparkle—round out the spaces. The FIT gym is a new glass-domed daylight space with integrated day/night LED lighting systems. The Social Terrace atmosphere creates a multi-sensory environment for exercise or simply hanging out. The main floor TRACE restaurant was updated with string drapes to capture the ubiquitous San Francisco fog. The 2nd floor Upstairs Bar was modified, most notably through the addition of glass walls at the private intimate alcove seating, distinct from the reflective metal-beaded curtains in TRACE.

By Liliana Alvarez

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