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Q&A: Shay Lam, TPG Architecture

April 16, 2020
Q&A: Shay Lam, TPG Architecture

District Kitchen, New York (Photo: Ben Gancsos)

New York-based TPG Architecture’s managing executive/studio creative director discusses how the COVID-19 pandemic will shape how guests travel, and how the hospitality industry does business.

Once we are more able to travel again, what are the immediate changes you expect hospitality venues to implement?
Similar to the aftermath of 9/11 and its effect on the travel industry, post-COVID-19 travel will be remarkably different. One of the first things we’ll be looking at is the density ratios of F&B venues. We may also be seeing a decrease in communal social spaces, like the great lobby, in place of a better guestroom experience.Stringent maintenance and cleaning programs will be at the front of everyone’s thoughts.We might see temperature scanners or UV lamps at entrances. The buffet bar, and anything that is shared, like magazines or even free coffee, might go away and be replaced by single-use solutions that are more sanitary.

How will hospitality design firms reconsider their approaches?
We need to adopt and learn from other market sectors and incorporate relevant, innovative concepts to our designs for hospitality. Looking to design methodologies in the healthcare sector will become especially important, but also from other practice areas that involve a high level of social interaction, like the workplace.

Citadines Connect Fifth Avenue, New York (Photo: Alec Zaballero)

What kinds of design innovations do you expect to see?
Hospitality will need to research what materials and practices in healthcare design are being used to achieve a higher level of sanitation, i.e. stringent antimicrobial finishes.We’ll also begin to incorporate touchless solutions, such as automated check-in, guest stay, and check out—like sending a room key to a guest’s personal device instead of a key card, or voice-activated guestroom controls for “lights on, lights off.”

As much of these conversations have been focused on the negative, what opportunities could come?
This is just the start of an exciting evolution. The guest experience has always been rooted in a human touch, but now more than ever technology, health, and wellness will play an advanced role.

How is the TPG team working during this time?
We are finding ways to engage with our teams as we work from home. Our group has virtual happy hours and design pin-up presentations in order to maintain the continuity of our culture. By having this steady stream of communication, we are still emotionally and creatively together, even if we are physically apart.

What is most important for us all to remember?
We will get through this together! The world might look very different, but we are very much in control of what it looks like.

Shay Lam, TPG Architecture (Photo: Courtesy of TPG Architecture)

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