By: Hunter Wilson
I am Hunter Wilson, a student currently studying in the Southern Illinois University Masters of Architecture program. I began my education at Vincennes University located in my hometown of Vincennes, Indiana. After receiving an Associate’s Degree in Architectural studies, I transferred to SIU where I earned a Bachelor’s Degree and still study today.
During this past semester (Fall 2015), we were provided a program that asked us to create a new town near Baltimore, MD as a team of three students. Along with this new town we were to each design our own building for this new town. I chose to design the hotel for the new town, which our group decided to name Meriweather, MD.
The new town consists of a luxury hotel, community center, live work units, apartments, single family homes, senior living center, retail, business, amphitheater, and recreation facilities. The new town allows for roughly 5000-6000 residents. Since the new town is located in a highly rural area, the goal was to provide a town center that replicates that of an urban setting. The town center will consist of the retail and business areas as well as nightlife. To the west of the town center is the amphitheater, community center and recreation center. Two bodies of water separate the urban town center from the more rural setting that is adjacent to the forest. Accessibility throughout the site consists of pedestrian walkways and bike paths. There are a series of bicycle rental stations throughout the site for pedestrian use.
The luxury hotel is located on the main entrance road to the north of the site. As you travel down the main boulevard, you will approach the hotel and continue through the building. This allows the hotel to act as a sort of gateway to the new town. The hotel consists of 120 guest rooms and also contains a swimming pool, meeting rooms, exercise room, a restaurant/bar, and a restaurant/function space. A plaza at the entrance of the hotel transitions into the town center for the guests to easily access those areas. While the plaza allows guests access to the town center, it also allows pedestrians in the town center to access the hotel amenities such as the bar and restaurant. Structural concrete walls and steel framing are the main structural elements. Exterior wood cladding, concrete and glazing act as the main finish materials.
The experience I gained from working on a project like this is generous. I also learned a lot about the process and myself after working with partners to achieve the vision of a new town.