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The new W Hotel rises from the shores of Lake Washington, evoking the unique history and contemporary culture of Bellevue in a design deeply rooted in references to the wilderness, rugged individualists, strawberry farms, summers lounging at the lake and suburbia. The hotel’s narrative speaks to today’s creative culture in an evolution of the classic lake house, reimagined in a “virtual lake house” and set to a mesmerizing score of grit and soul from groundbreaking local music influences, including the blues, Jimi Hendrix and the grunge movement of the 90s.
The Vision & Design
In this virtual lake house filled with memories of life, both modern and primitive, in the urban wilderness of the Pacific Northwest, the W Hotel Bellevue blends Bellevue’s rich history and technology in a modernist club house filled with music, fashion and design.
The hotel interiors are a nod to deeply rooted memories of summer vacations at the lake, local lore, Bellevue’s agrarian history, varied and legendary musical influences, and a fashion culture unique to the region. The lake house archetype serves as a framework for the many threads of the Bellevue narrative, a backdrop to display the stories along the hotel guest’s journey, designed as a slow reveal of discovery, like tales shared around the campfire, or memories captured in old family photos, nostalgic, ironic and sometimes irreverent.
Guests are introduced to the virtual lake house through an assent up a monumental stair as deconstructing dock, surrounded by a three-story hand painted street mural. Street art stories punctuate many spaces, revealing multiple aspects of the narrative as the story of Bellevue unfolds through the hotel’s imagery, both literal and metaphorical.
The hotel abounds with public gathering spaces, all affectionately named and themed along lake house lines. The “Lakehouse Livingroom” invites indulgence in creative libations, enjoyed around a roaring fireplace with deep sofas and lounge chairs based on the 70’s mismatched logic of the found object. The space is an extravaganza of color and pattern, like the lake house repository of a family’s cast-off treasures or the garage band’s flop house, all with a technical, modern twist.
The Livingroom connects to the “Pool House” so named for the game of billiards, not the water feature. The heart of the Pool House is the DJ Booth, where the music has blown the House apart and its fragments fly high. A glass wall opens out to “The Porch” where a warming fire beckons, surrounded by swings, rockers and cushions in an open-air lounge for relaxing, rain or shine.
“The Library” beckons guests for a night cap and some pillow talk with a reading of a trashy romance novel or lurid detective story from the crammed shelves of summer-cast offs. A giant mural tells the story of the “Beautiful View” as a backdrop.
The W’s signature restaurant is The Lakehouse, a metaphorical whitewashed cabin in the woods and gathering place to share a meal deeply rooted in the area’s agrarian past. Diners enter the Butler’s Pantry and Kitchen Garden through heavy timbered trusses and walls charred and blackened by the years of wood smoke from the central hearth fire. Gingham and flowers in shades of gray decorate the walls like a memory of grandma’s breakfast room.
Guests retire to rooms through corridors of memories: family photos curated that surprise and delight, evocative reminders of summers past. The guestrooms are at once familiar and warm, welcoming with a fabulous window seat framing the “Beautiful View” on an imaginary porch complete with a bar. Pulp poetry adorns the custom pillow, reminiscent and playful, written in the style of a tawdry romance. The bed’s headboard is based on a silver blow-up float upon which to sail away in your dreams.
The virtual lake house narrative is expressed inside and out, with the notion of Bellevue as seen from across Lake Washington as a welcoming vacation destination. As the summer sun sets on the water’s expanse, the shimmering reflection on the hotel’s windows are reimagined in the aluminum orange fins, a colorful pixelated vision on the skyline. The influence of the region’s Japanese culture through the artistry of stacked paintings is found in the stepping of the tower’s architecture.
The W Hotel is one component of the 1.5 million square-foot mixed-use Lincoln Square Expansion project in Bellevue’s Eastside community. The 14-story, 245-room hotel sits atop four floors of retail, and 231 luxury residences rise above the W Hotel in a single 42-story tower.
The hotel’s complex program required vertical and horizontal stacking to integrate with the hotel operations and the overall development, which includes upscale retail and entertainment venues, Class A office, residential, six floors of parking and elevated pedestrian bridges.