Connectic, a sprawling, modular pop-up structure devised by New York architecture and design firm Cooper Carry, won first place in this year's Radical Innovation in Hospitality competition, announced at an awards ceremony held last night. Contest organizer The Hardy Group (formerly The John Hardy Group) hosted the event at the New Museum in Soho. Cooper Carry joined two other finalists, San Francisco-based SB Architects and New York-based Danny Forster & Architecture, in presenting forward-thinking hotel concepts to a panel of jurors and dozens of industry professionals. An audience vote ultimately secured Cooper Carry the grand prize of $10,000.
Each of Connectic’s modules is a polyhedron with hexagonal and square faces, making it unusually conducive to diagonal arrangements and therefore easier to construct in unconventional spaces, particularly densely developed cities that lack room for new construction. According to Cooper Carry's estimate, the structure can be constructed and deconstructed quickly and cheaply, making it ideal for short-term needs like large-scale sporting events, which can attract countless one-time visitors to a city, or even disaster relief.
This was the first time in the contest’s 12-year history that all three finalists have been American, notes Hardy Group CEO John Hardy, who has served on the jury, which is responsible for choosing finalists, every year. He asserted that nationality plays no part in the jury’s selections, nor do factors like a project’s budget or scale.
“The only criteria for entry is that you need to be able to rent a room,” he says. Though when choosing finalists, the jury also considers a project’s likeliness to be realized. From year to year, the jury has sought “to strike a balance between what is radical and what is feasible,” Hardy adds, as the point of the contest is ultimately to connect finalists with developers and other professionals who can help their projects become a reality. In the past, contest standouts like 2015 winner Zoku Loft and 2017 student honoree Caspar Schols’s Garden House, both in the Netherlands, have become realities as a result of this contest.
In the dozen years since Radical Innovation launched, Hardy observes, technology has advanced rapidly. Hence why today, he says, “technology is being used as a tool” rather than being incorporated into projects as a gimmick. Exemplifying this statement was runner-up Danny Forster & Architecture. The firm’s presentation concerned its high-rise modular hotel, AC by Marriott. Planned to measure 400 feet tall, some 80 percent of its final square footage is already under construction in two locations: Krakow, Poland, where individual hotel rooms are undergoing prefabrication assembly-line style; and 842 Sixth Avenue in New York, where each will be shipped and affixed.
Though modular construction isn’t necessarily “radical” in itself, the company had to devise elaborate VR software that would facilitate close monitoring of the construction process, an invention that founder Danny Forster states will be available for license in the coming months, a potential game-changer for the industry and modular construction at large.