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Hotels Magazine Q&A With New York Architect Gene Kaufman

New York City architect Gene Kaufman is setting records as the man with the most Manhattan hotel design projects in the works—36 right now, mostly mid-market brands such as Holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn and Doubletree. Five are planned for the same block and six represent the new “skinny” in urban hotel design: three-in-one hotels. HOTELS magazine chatted with Kaufman from his SoHo office to hear his ideas on compelling design for the mid-priced Manhattan market. HOTELS: Which emerging trends are you seeing in New York City hotel design—what do you like? What don’t you like? Kaufman: Branded hotels are becoming more unique, with a higher attention to materials and qualities that were the hallmark of boutique hotels, which is a good thing. Meanwhile, as the price of a standard hotel room goes up, there is pressure to create hotels with lower priced rooms, which ultimately means smaller rooms and maybe lower budget finishes. The simultaneous existence of both conditions means a potential diversification in the range of hotel development. HOTELS: What design benefits will a brand enjoy if it does several small hotels in different neighborhoods around Manhattan rather than doing just one, big hotel? Kaufman: Utilizing small sites or subdividing larger sites allows us to scale buildings down to match the scale of the neighborhood, and the more personal scale of the individual guest, but widens opportunities. There are many more small or irregular sites than big and regular ones, especially when a high floor area ratio allows for a tall building.
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