The Great Outdoors

Three innovative designers share their tips for creating immersive outdoor spaces

by Margie Monin Dombrowski

According to a recent survey by the American Society of Landscape Architects, outdoor living spaces—defined as kitchens and entertainment spaces—were ranked at the top of the list of growing trends among American homeowners. It should come as no surprise, then, that customers are now expecting their favorite restaurants, bars and hotels to provide unique outdoor experiences. What’s more, these outdoor spaces are just as important as their interior counterparts—if not more so—because of their many make-or-break design details.

It’s not just about being outside—it’s about creating an inspiring experience that still feels like a part of the interior space. This trend of creating outside “rooms” comes straight from the world of residential design, but designers and architects in the hospitality world have managed to take it to a whole new level (as they tend to do). We spoke with three design professionals about their recent outdoor projects, and bring you these tips for creating your own patio paradise.

Andrew Franz
Andrew Franz Architect

People are really seeking outdoor spaces to relax and celebrate,” says Andrew Franz, AIA, LEED AP, principal of Andrew Franz Architect in New York City. Even within a city, says the self-described urbanist, “there’s a real awareness of people trying to be connected to the environment.”

One of Franz’s most recent projects, Upper Manhattan’s waterfront destination La Marina, is an example of a successful outdoor space that just so happens to be built on a 75,000-square-foot public park. The restaurant, bar and lounge is located at the edge of the Hudson River with a view of the George Washington Bridge and the Palisades. With such a naturally beautiful location, Franz was careful to not overpower it.

The challenge, he says, was “how to enclose an outdoor pavilion in the park and make it feel open and unencumbered by walls, and blur the distinction between indoor and outdoor.”

The restaurant’s structure blends in with its surroundings as glass walls open up to the view outside. Mixed seating in the outdoor lounge area (some under umbrellas, some out in the open and others right on the beach) captures a casual vibe.

Photos of La Marina, Upper Manhattan // Courtesy of Andrew Franz Architect


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