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Radical Innovation: Meet the Finalists

Radical Innovation, a competition and year-round community that challenges designers, hoteliers and students to pioneer compelling ideas in travel and hospitality, has revealed the finalists for its 13th annual edition.

“Radical is not so much an award show as it is a movement: to identify and recognize the people and ideas that can change the hospitality industry for the better. These are ideas that benefit all involved, providing new growth opportunities for consumer travel and industry participants the world over,” John Hardy, president/CEO, The John Hardy Group, told InspireDesign.

The three finalists are: Infinite Explorer by SB Architects, San Francisco, Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel by Danny Forster & Architecture, New York, Connectic by Cooper Carry, New York. These three firms will compete in a live pitch presentation at the New Museum in New York City this fall. After presentations, a live audience vote will be held to determine the grand-prize winner of $10,000 and the runner-up prize of $5,000. All of the finalists will have an opportunity to meet industry experts who can help further their concept.

InspireDesign caught up with Forster about the Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel, the AC by Marriott at 842 6th Ave., New York City, soon to be the tallest modular hotel in the world when it opens in early 2020.

“Having institutions like Radical that support what we’re doing, bringing it to a wider audience is really exciting,” Forster said. “Our project is not just nominated because it’s a cool project, I think it’s being nominated because we’re trying to design not just a building, but a methodology for making modular architecture succeed in the hospitality space.”

Forester said he focuses on designing a process rather than a successful one-off building, all the while keeping it true to its location.

“The projects that have proceeded ours have not always been wildly successful. That challenge is to create adoption of a technology that we believe will make a substantial difference and really be a game changer,” Forster said.

Finalists were selected by a jury of hospitality and design experts: Claude Amar, managing director, The John Hardy Group International; Wing T. Chao, founder, Wing T. Chao Global Advisors; John Hardy, president/CEO, The John Hardy Group; Michael Medzigian, chairman/managing Partner, Watermark Capital Partners, LLC; Jena Thornton, principal, Hospitality, Kinzer Partners; Simon Turner, managing director, Alpha Lodging Partners LLC; and James Woods, WeWork. The Radical Innovation jury selected the finalists based on creativity and design, as well as their potential feasibility and ability to impact the industry. Three professional finalists were chosen from an impressive selection of nearly 50 entries submitted from more than 20 countries.

“At the end of the day, one or two cool projects will not change industry, but a proven, successful, repeatable methodology will move the needle,” Forster said. “If you’re required to reinvent the wheel every single time, you’re not taking advantage of institutional knowledge based upon the projects that came before.”

In addition to the three professional finalists, the jury selected one student submission from among the many entries. This year’s student winner is Rooftop Hotel Gardens by Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin from Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering (KSUAE) in Russia. They will both be invited to join the professional finalists on-stage at the New Museum to present this unique spatial hospitality concept. They will also receive a $1,500 cash prize and the opportunity to pursue a graduate assistantship in the Master of Architecture program at the University of Nevada Las Vegas, provided by long-time Radical Innovation supporter UNLV. The total two-year value is estimated at more than $50,000.

“It [having a diverse group of finalists] just proves that great ideas and creative, passionate people are not limited by borders; they’re everywhere, and that is very positive and meaningful to me,” Hardy said.

Additionally, the jury selected two honorable mention student entries including Michal Witalis from Poland’s Academy of Fine Arts in Cracow for his ecological remote destination concept, Revo, and Sharareh Faryadi from Iran’s Ferdowsi University of Mashhad for her ecological desert protection concept, Nebka Protective System. Radical Innovation is produced by The John Hardy Group with support from founding sponsor Global Allies as well as Beyer Brown, Castell, Canyon Equity, Craft
House, DFL Legal, Greenview, Hilton, HLI, Kinzer Partners, Martin Stringfellow Associates, Rivur, Robert Douglas, The Son And Sons Brand Agency, UNLV School of Architecture, WeWork and 2019 media partner Dezeen.