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Hospitality Design Trends + the Role of Landscape ArchitectsAlice Storm Jones

IMG_5870-200x300Location, Location, Location. Yes, this still rings true and according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), location remains a key component of successful development. However market trends in outdoor living are challenging the role of landscape architects and highlighting the importance of forward-thinking exterior spaces.

Here are some trends in hospitality design that FTLA has seen evolve throughout 2014 and expect to continue to grow well into 2015 and beyond.

Seven Hospitality Design Trends of 2014:

1. Blurred Lines

Current design trends blow away customary distinctions between indoor and outdoor activities. With a heavy dependence on wireless gadgets, it’s easy to bring our offices, living rooms, lounges and entertaining spaces outdoors. Permeable transitions between indoors and outdoors, inclusion of decorative elements typical of interior spaces, the use of elements that extend traditional ‘outdoor’ seasons, and the popularity of exterior kitchens, bars and living spaces have created a demand for thoughtful and dynamic exterior design.

IMG_5804-225x3002. New Traditional

It’s no longer enough to include just beautiful site furnishings. Users demand elements that multi-task, are locally sourced, sustainably manufactured, or represent the surrounding history. Site furnishings need to be flexible and represent a modern take on classic styles. In many hospitality markets and retail environments they need to promote pedestrian movement and a diversity of activities.

3. Design Materials

Just as fashions come and go, so do popular landscape trends. Site furniture is often referred to as ‘jewelry’ of a great design, not dependent upon it, but just enough sparkle to dazzle. Pops of modern color in a striking monotone plaza, a twist on a classic chair or creative lighting accents are popular landscape trends. Finding new uses for familiar materials is also a fun twist; vertical landscapes are popular accents and a creative use of new technology.

4. Planting

As landscape architects, the joke is often a client’s predictable request for ‘low maintenance’ planting, however, selection of appropriate landscape materials is no laughing matter. There’s a strong trend to design responsible landscapes which include native plantings, tolerant of drought conditions and independent of potable irrigation. Native plantings are often pivotal components of Maryland’s Department of the Environment (MDE) strict water regulations. Also of note is a popular resurgence of plantings which support productive landscapes: food production, fruiting trees, herb gardens.

In a 2014 article for the Urban Land Institute (ULI) VP of AECOM, Jacinta McCann says ‘water needs performance metrics that extend beyond visual and recreation amenities.’ While typical water features, such as bubblers and runnels, are still popular in many designs, current trends and conservation efforts demand responsibility. At-grade, interactive pop fountains with the ability to purify and recirculate water are taking center stage and natural water features that promote water recharge are becoming more mainstream.

6. Focus on Fitness

Group fitness plays a role in defining urban, retail and mixed-use spaces. Long gone are the days of monotonous hours on treadmills in windowless gyms. Customers want to multi-task: picking up dry-cleaning and a latte after a community yoga class in the retail center green. Eco-conscious patrons demand smart, accessible bike parking and trends show workshops and services supporting these needs are thriving in retail centers.

7. Lifestyle Amenities

People today spend less time in the office than ever before, we’re not working less, but the typical working environment has evolved. Due to increased flexibility as a result of telecommuting, working from home or running home-based businesses, employees are looking for memorable work spaces outside the confinement of four walls. These spaces must also provide a venue for a variety of activities: concerts, markets, sport leagues and pop-up services. Accommodations for four-legged family members with dog runs and washes are also popular design trends.

As increasing demands are placed on the built environment, hospitality and retail centers continue to act as community civic centers. Landscape architects are responsible for creating dynamic spaces that fulfill the ever increasing requirements communities are placing on quality exterior design. FTLA has an experienced staff well-versed in these exciting challenges and ready for those to come. Challenge us today, we’re ready!

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