What does it take to be a finalist in the 2019 Radical Innovation competition? How about a 21st-century train with wilderness stops along its route through the American West, the world’s tallest modular hotel, and collapsible modular construction units that are adaptable to a variety of environments?
Those three concepts—Infinite Explorer by San Francisco-based SB Architects, the Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel by New York-based Danny Forster & Architecture, and Connectic by New York-based Cooper Carry—were recently announced as the three finalists in the 13th-annual Radical Innovation competition. The award challenges professional designers and hoteliers, along with students in a separate competition, to create compelling innovations in travel and hospitality design.
Infinite Explorer is intended to help travelers connect with remote destinations in the American West utilizing defunct passenger rail lines via one-of-a-kind hospitality experience: a train with cabins designed to open at a variety of stops with newly created outdoor infrastructure, allowing passengers to step from their cabin to enjoy the region’s incredible natural scenery along with adventure and wellness activities and dining.
The second finalist is already in the works: AC by Marriott (to be located at Sixth Avenue between 29th St. and 30th St. in Manhattan) will be the tallest modular hotel in the world when it opens in late 2020. Constructed using the Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel model by Danny Forster & Architecture, the $65 million build mixes the efficiency of modular design processes with inventive architectural design. A full 80 percent of the AC hotel’s square footage will be shipped from a factory in Poland—pre-constructed and already decorated with curtains, TV, and wall art.
Connectic by Cooper Carry is the year’s third innovator—a collective of modules that a flexible, adaptable, and reusable. Uses could include a pop-up hotel in a remote area, a temporary event space, and interstitial spaces between buildings or in forgotten pocket parks.
The trio of professional finalists was chosen from among nearly 50 entries from more than 20 countries by a jury of hospitality and design experts. They will compete in a live pitch presentation at the New Museum in New York City this fall, where the audience will vote to determine the grand-prize winner of $10,000; the runner-up will receive $5,000.
In addition, the jury selected a student submission winner: Rooftop Hotel Gardens by Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaididullin from Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering (KSUAE) in Russia. They will receive $1,500 and be invited to join the professional finalists at the New Museum event this fall.
Since its founding, Radical Innovation has awarded more than $150,000 to progressive architectural/hospitality innovators.
Keep scrolling for additional images of the three professional finalists >