Travel + Leisure design awards, 2013

Good design makes travel better, influencing it in ways small and large—shaping everything from the gear you pack to the skylines of the cities you visit. And Travel + Leisure’s annual Design Awards recognize the most innovative debuts in a variety of categories. 


This year’s jury included Rebecca Minkoff, a fashion and accessories designer, and Marcus Samuelsson, chef and owner of New York City’s Red Rooster Harlem. Together with five other jurors, they homed in on the most compelling designs. Among them: a 1901 building transformed into an industrial-chic hotel in Brooklyn; an underground extension of a German museum lit by 195 large round windows embedded in the lawn of the courtyard garden; and a reinvention of London’s double-decker buses.
Read on for all the winners of the 2013 Travel + Leisure Design Awards.

Best Museum

Städel Museum, Frankfurt

Designed by Till Schneider, Michael Schumacher, and Kai Otto for Schneider & Schumacher

This spectacular extension of the Städel in Frankfurt inserts huge new galleries for contemporary art beneath the 19th-century museum’s courtyard garden, lit by 195 large round windows embedded in the lawn. The windows are designed to be walked on, and also double as LED lights, laid out in a grid and glowing at night. But it is the subtle, swelling hill at the center of the lawn (and the corresponding dome in the gallery below) that is the project’s otherworldly masterstroke, imparting a dash of Spielbergian drama in the heart of the city.

Honorable Mention: Best Museum

Yale University Art Gallery Renovation and Expansion, New Haven, Conn.

Designed by Duncan Hazard and Richard Olcott of Ennead Architects

The combination of three distinct, landmark buildings, as well as the addition of a rooftop terrace, form a combined exhibition space of almost 70,000 square feet where the university museum’s preeminent collection can now be displayed.

Best Resort

Tierra Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Chile

Designed by Cazu Zegers, Roberto Benavente, and Rodrigo Ferrer for Cazu Zegers

Set in a vast, awe-inspiring Patagonian landscape on the banks of Lake Sarmiento and with views of the mountains of Torres del Paine National Park, the low-slung, aerodynamic Tierra Patagonia is a deceptively modest building. The 40-room resort was built using locally sourced stone and wood, most of it left as raw and unadorned as possible; from the outside, the structure is meant to evoke the timeless shapes of sand dunes and driftwood, at one with its rugged setting; inside, fine wood paneling and traditional Chilean fabrics bring warmth to the simple yet luxurious rooms.

Best Spa

Les Bains de Léa Nuxe Spa, Bordeaux, France

Designed by Jacques Garcia

Overlooking the city of Bordeaux from the top three floors of the Grand Hôtel, Les Bains de Léa is an opulent retreat that includes a pool, a Turkish bath, a sauna, and treatment rooms, all in rich reds and slate grays, mosaics and marble, velvet and silk. There are stylized reproductions of Botticelli and Titian on the walls and gold-leaf details everywhere. The rooftop terrace bar, with its lush gardens, sprawling sofas, and tented Jacuzzi, is a further highlight of the spa’s sybaritic escapism.

Best Transportation

London Bus, London

Designed by Thomas Heatherwick for Heatherwick Studio

The red double-decker bus is a symbol of London and a national icon, but with the original 1950’s and 60’s Routemaster long out of production, an icon was in need of reinvention. This new diesel-hybrid bus, commissioned by the mayor, represents just that—it’s a contemporary classic. The bus has two staircases, three sets of doors, and an open platform. Inside, the lighting, colors, and materials are serene and show off a meticulous attention to detail.

Best Hotel, Fewer Than 100 Rooms

Wythe Hotel, Brooklyn, N.Y.

Designed by Andrew Tarlow, Peter Lawrence, and Jed Walentas; Morris Adjmi Architects; Workstead

Transforming a 1901 building into an industrial-chic hotel, the Wythe is emblematic of the new Brooklyn—increasingly a New York destination in its own right—and the homegrown, craft-centered aesthetic it represents. The hotel’s carefully preserved brick masonry, cast-iron columns, loft-style windows, and pine beams lend it a kind of historical glow; the modern furnishings, custom woodwork, and eye-catching art and graphics combine to create something entirely new.

Best Retail Space

Sweet Alchemy by Stelios Parliaros, Athens

Designed by Stelios Kois for Kois Associated Architects

A confectionery and pastry shop in Athens, Sweet Alchemy creates an atmosphere of mystery around its many delicacies, presenting them in glass-topped cases in a space that feels a bit like a sorcerer’s workshop. Jars, bottles, bins, and trays of candy, jam, chocolate, and pastry fill the rooms, which are lit dramatically from above; abundant sunlight is refracted through a dense grid of tall metal shelves, highlighting the shop’s many unfinished-wood and concrete surfaces and the very refined sweets on display.

Best Performance Space

Music School of Louviers, Louviers, France

Designed by Opus 5 Architectes

A beautiful ruin, built as a monastery in the 1600’s and later turned into a prison, has been reborn as a state-of-the-art music school and performance space at the center of Louviers, in Normandy. Set above the Epervier River, the remnants of the site’s historical buildings have been preserved, unified around a simple glass box with chrome stripes. The new construction houses the main orchestral hall and is the stunning focal point of the school, reflecting the surroundings and sky during the day, glowing warmly at night.

Best Hotel, 100 or More Rooms

Palace Hotel Tokyo

Designed by Terry McGinnity for GA Design International

The understated luxury of the new Palace Hotel Tokyo, built on the site of the iconic 1961 Palace Hotel and adjacent to the moat surrounding the Imperial Palace in the center of the city, is perfectly suited to its history. There is quiet, traditional grandeur in the marble and ebony finishes and deep green carpets, and a sense of sophisticated restraint that permeates the hotel’s dazzling lobby, restaurants, and bars. All of the rooms overlook the vast green Imperial Gardens; views of nature—trees, stones, moss, and water—are at the center of the design.

Honorable Mention: Best Hotel, 100 or More Rooms

Conservatorium Hotel, Amsterdam

Designed by Piero Lissoni for Lissoni Associati

This Piero Lissoni-designed hotel occupies the site of Amsterdam’s former 19th-century Sweelinck Music Conservatory. Austere lines, sleek interiors, and floor-to-ceiling glass walls in the hotel’s Brasserie juxtapose the building’s neo-Gothic architecture to create a contemporary classic.

See more of the T+L Design Awards 2013.