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Online Exclusive - Radisson Blu Mall of America, Minneapolis

Sep 11, 2013

“There’s a nice little story to the whole thing,” says Glasgow, Scotland-based designer Jim Hamilton of the Radisson Blu Mall of America. Taking cues from his own hometown as well as the hotel’s Minneapolis setting, Hamilton set out to create an oasis for millions of international shoppers. “I like beginning with those seeds of ideas that make the final result so impactful,” says Hamilton. “With this design, people had to buy into a little bit of dreaming from the beginning.”


With more than 40 million visitors a year, the mall’s popularity inspired Hamilton. “In my head, the mall acts a little bit like a firefly,” says Hamilton, founder of firm Graven Images. “When you turn the lights on, it has migrant draw.” At the courtyard entrance, small backlit windows mimic the insects by “leading visitors to the hotel as opposed to the mall.”


A two-story Krion feature wall in the lobby mimics a large shopping bag. Surrounding the escalator, the wall embellishes the long path between the lobby and the second floor reception. “The wall is about creating this valley in the middle, where you check in the front and then you disappear behind it,” says Hamilton.  “It sets the tone for the rest of the public spaces.” Nest hanging loungers are suspended 40 feet above for added drama.


These loungers make up part of the hotel’s design gallery⎯⎯a concept Hamilton first created for the Radisson Blu Chicago to incorporate unique pieces of art and furniture. Among the local Minnesotan pieces, Hamilton installed artwork by Scottish artist John Byrne. “We always create a little connection back home to Scotland without pushing too hard,” comments Hamilton. “Rather than it just being design for design sake, we always try to make sure there’s some indigenous quality that makes it relevant rather than just a design of Scotland, Europe, or America.”


The locality theme is further cemented with the lobby’s topographical print rug: From above, the rug boasts an abstract aerial view of the region, while from below, the camouflage-like pattern contrasts with the sheer Krion wall. “When I’m flying, the surrounding landscape shows you all these types of terrain,” says Hamilton. “In Minneapolis, the pools of water especially struck me.”


Sheltered behind the Krion wall, Firelake Grill House and Cocktail Bar offers another look into Minnesotan life with reclaimed barn wood walls, floors, and ceilings. “I love the idea of ‘if walls could talk,’” comments Hamilton. “It was like taking those little whispers and stories of Minnesota and wrapping them around the bar and restaurant.” A skyway⎯⎯patterned like a double-strand helix to reflect the Twin Cities⎯⎯links the hotel to the mall as another allusion to Minnesota.


“These things can only happen if clients and design team buy into the combined vision and dream,” says Hamilton. “I do believe then it ends up being really positive and achieving some really amazing things.”


"The Radisson Blu Mall of America hotel continues the Carlson Rezidor tradition for the brand of comfortable, thoughtful, contemporary guestrooms and cutting edge, surprising design for the public areas," adds Tom Trout, vice president of architecture for Carlson Hotels Worldwide. "We respect our guests appreciation for unique hotel design that is unexpected, and they have returned the respect with their gracious comments about their stay and how wonderful the hotel makes them feel."

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