The Westin at The Woodlands, US

March 13, 2017

The Westin at The Woodlands in Texas, US is a testament to The Westin Brand, thanks to the work of waldrop+nichols studio to bring the outside into the design of this flowing interior space.

Sitting along the northern bank of The Woodlands Waterway in Texas, The Westin hotel sees a picturesque tree-lined canal and path system wind through the entire Woodlands downtown attractions. The contemporary glass façade of the hotel hugs the curve of the water with similar geometry reflected throughout its interior design and architecture.

Selected to comprise the hotel’s interior was American-based waldrop+nichols studio, having worked previously with The Howard Hughes Corporation, which owns The Westin at The Woodlands. As a branded property, waldrop+nichols studio used The Westin standards as a guideline and framework, and the project has since been featured in the 2016 Westin standards book ‘Westin Iconic Spaces’.

The interior concept evolved through the precise lens of a camera focused on the landscape, synthesising forms, textures and contours that seamlessly transcend into a visibly modern interior. With the expert touches of lighting design practices iWorks and Hallmark Lighting, the hotel’s interior comes to life with bespoke fixtures that amplify the hotel’s grandeur. An illuminated, custom light installation comprised of 2,651 glass lamps set within bronze framework spans 137 linear feet and greets guests as they enter the lobby, drawing them from the entry through an architectural flow space towards a waterway overlook. This iconic installation meanders into the lobby bar and crescendos above a two-storey pre-function space.

waldrop+nichols studio founder Reggi Nichols told darc: “The lighting of the space is a focal interior architectural element of the lobby and it is the first design element that garners attention from hotel guests. It sets the stage and creates not only form but function as well.”

waldrop+nichols studio doesn’t foster a signature style, with its design approach catering to each project in a unique perspective to give every hotel a true sense of place and reason for being. The Westin at The Woodlands is no exception, as Nichols explained: “The aesthetic for its interior design is lighter and brighter than any of our previous projects, and the amount of glazing was paramount. With the vast glazing inside the landing space and common areas, we chose to define these spaces with floating elements in the absence of physical walls in order to create spatial division. These elements include the meandering custom lighting fixture as well as the structural column inside Current, an all-day dining venue, which is inspired by a deconstructed tree trunk and serves as an indoor canopy.”

The curved geometry of The Westin at The Woodlands enhances the site and surroundings by emulating the curve of the waterway, providing panoramic views and a stunning building design.

“The Woodlands itself was the inspiration,” continued Nichols. “We captured the essence of the Woodlands development and held true to our initial concept. The lobby, for example, offers a design rooted in its wooded, waterfront surroundings. A backdrop borrowed from the landscape seamlessly transcends into the modern interior architecture.”

Despite its seemingly natural and inescapable points of inspiration, these design choices presented challenges from an interior architectural standpoint. Special consideration within the design was given to paving and carpet design patterns, layout and installation that embraced and adapted to the building curve. Additionally, 15x20ft light fixtures for the hotel’s ballroom were custom designed to address the segmented footprint. Containing the fixture within each coffer perimeter and not allowing it to protrude below the ceiling line avoided any appearance of misalignment.

“When you create a conceptual design and rendering early in the process, they serve as a glimpse of the finished project and establish a mind-set of the finished design. When the completed project perfectly captures the essence of the vision as illustrated in the renderings, then you know you have achieved your original concept and vision. We feel we were able to achieve this with The Westin at The Woodlands project.”

The hotel’s solutions and final outcome seem inevitable – it couldn’t have become anything other than what it is, being surrounded by such flowing beauty and natural geometry. waldrop+nichols studio captured the essence of this hotel’s being without hesitation, and in doing so, created something that stands as tribute to the hospitality achievements of The Westin brand.