JW Marriott Hotel
16. February 2015
A few years ago Architectural Record asked, "Is Vietnam the new frontier for architects?" The article referenced projects by large corporate offices underway at the time, but it also mentioned a couple buildings designed by Carlos Zapata Studio; its 2010 Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City is considered one of the first buildings in the country by a U.S. firm. CZS has followed up the tower with a large hotel for the National Convention Center in Hanoi. CZS answered a few questions about the project.
What were the circumstances of receiving the commission for this project?
We were asked to produce a concept for a 450-room hotel for the National Convention Center in Hanoi. This building is within the National Convention Center campus and therefore required approval from the Minister of Construction. We were required to produce a concept and take it through the approval process. This was not a competition, but prior to CZS a few other architects had provided concepts for this site and program. After the project was approved by the Minister of Construction, our proposed program was verified by the hotel operator, JW Marriott, prior to starting design of the building.
Please provide an overview of the project.
This is a 450-room convention center hotel with two convention banquet halls, three restaurants, an executive lounge, a spa and fitness center with indoor swimming pool and parking.
What are the main ideas and inspirations influencing the design of the building?
The main idea was to place the building at the edge of a man-made lake, part of the National Convention Center campus, and to recall the coastline of Vietnam. To achieve this, the edge of the lake was modified and expanded to conform to the edge of our building. The building wraps around an elevated central courtyard, embracing the visitors as they approach the main entrance to the hotel. The Convention Center activities (boardrooms) are located under the entry courtyard and are accessed at a lower level entrance. The Convention facilities are directly connected to the restaurants located at the edge of the lake.
This is a building that has pivotal motion, some of the elements cantilever past the lower perimeter. In order to convey our concept, we used historical drawings of Vietnam’s mystical creature, the dragon, to conceptualize the implied movement of the structure. These conceptual ideas were part of the presentation to the Minister of Construction during the approval process for the building.
How did you approach designing for Hanoi/Vietnam and how would you describe the process of working on the project there?
This is our second project in Vietnam. We were in the process of designing and building the Bitexco Financial Tower in Ho Chi Minh City when our client approached us to design the JW Marriott. As such, we had relationships with local architects and the construction management company that would collaborate with us in building this project.
Ground floor plan
This project is in the Tu Liem district, which is part of new Hanoi. As such, it is not a historical area, but a modern area undergoing an urban transformation. There were a number of tall buildings proposed around the site, and our guidelines called for a nine-story maximum height. Also this building is located with the National Convention Center campus, which is a meticulously landscaped area. Our response was to reach the maximum height of 9 stories at the central entry level and slope the wings downwards to connect with the existing landscape. The center court is a richly landscaped entry court. Furthermore, we used green roofs, buried all the convention facilities, and additionally screened the mechanical systems to diminish the massing of the building within the site and provide an elegant roof profile as seen from the tall buildings around it.
Lobby floor plan
How would you describe the architecture of Hanoi/Vietnam and how does the building relate to it?
The National Convention Center campus is not in the historical area of Hanoi. It is in the district of Tu Liem, a part of new Hanoi surrounded by low-rise shop houses that are systematically being replaced by mid-rise and high-rise construction as part of the master plan for the New Hanoi. Our building is within a meticulous landscaped campus. Our efforts were focused on the designing a building that belonged in this landscaped campus of the National Convention Center. The architecture of the Convention Center campus is modern, as is our building.
Email interview conducted by John Hill.
JW Marriott Hotel2013
Carlos Zapata Studio
New York, NY
Andres Nunes, Jonathas Valle, Maria del Mar Granados, Amy Thigpen, Patricia Wu, Ryan Milks
Leslie E Robertson Associates and VNCC
David Stillman Associates
Charles Anderson Landscape Architecture
Hotel Interior Design, DWP
Photographs and Drawings
Courtesy of Carlos Zapata Studio