Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Roadside Motel Comes to Brooklyn

Holiday Inn is, of course, one of the largest hotel/motel chains in the world. It began as a dream of Memphis building-industry mogul Kemmons Wilson. In the 1950s Wilson travelled the newly-created Eisenhower Interstate highway system, and was appalled at the slovenly conditions that he found in America's roadside motels. He envisioned a chain of motels, offering clean, convenient, standardized accommodations across the country. The idea of franchising was relatively new then, and Wilson and Ray Kroc (of McDonalds fame) really revolutionized the concept. Holiday Inn was the first mass-produced hotel/motel chain, and is still one of the largest in the world.

Now, other than as a business model, Holiday Inn has never been spectacular in any way. In fact, the chain became a bit slovenly itself in the 80s and 90s, and the company (now British-owned) decided to undergo a chain-wide image makeover. This seems to have chiefly involved a new logo, and a new architectural image, which seems, by all accounts, to basically be cheap and pseudo-neoclassical, or something.

This new design loses on all fronts. At least the original Holiday Inn aesthetic was current-- it may have been cheap, but it perfectly embodied the futuristic aesthetic of the 1950s, and thus fell in line with the designs for automobiles, airstreams and the other new products of postwar America. The new design prototype, at some pitiful attempt at connoting class, manages to do nothing but summon up shell-shocked, horror-stricken architectural flashbacks of Michael Graves:

The new Holiday Inn in Gowanus' "Hotel District" (image at the top of this posting) embodies the worst of this.

The saddest part is, before this company-wide re-imaging campaign, there were actually some pretty interesting Holiday Inns going up around the world (see below images, of inns in the Maldives and Sao Paulo). Or maybe they just saved their good designs for overseas.

Honestly, I hope this whole thing backfires on them. Stick to your roots, Holiday Inn. If you wanna go for historicism, why not go back to your original car-culture aesthetic, rather than this stupid, un-founded and un-urban 'classical' look? Now Gowanus has another shitty stucco monstrosity. Fuck you, Holiday Inn.

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