Best Western Inn Kelowna Studio / RCL
Project Team:   David Takacs,   Sookja Lee,   Byron Merritt,   Yushan Chou,   Yali Tsai
View additional photographs:     Design and construction process

Situated in the Southern Interior of British Columbia, the city of Kelowna extends from the beaches of the Okanagan Lake to the surrounding hillsides of the valley. In the fall of 1998, Studio/RCL was contacted by the owners of the Best Western Inn Kelowna to design an addition to their hotel. The aim was to add 49 new guest rooms and suites to the existing two story, 99 room hotel. Studio/RCL achieved this goal by designing a 10 story tower to replace the existing lobby and extending into the courtyard. In addition to the new guest rooms, a luxurious 6,000 square foot lobby, a state of the art fitness room, a 50 foot indoor/outdoor swimming pool, two outdoor hot tubs, a steam room, three confrence/banquet rooms, a board room and a 5,000 square foot rooftop terrace were incorporated in the plan. Studio/RCL was successful in retaining the private and tranquil setting of the courtyard, as well as creating new public spaces (balconies and terraces) with stunning panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

During the warm summer months, the hotel lobby's 11 foot high sliding glass doors remain open for an expansive indoor/outdoor effect. This area plays host to a lavish continental breakfast each morning where guests have the choice of relaxing in the lobby interior or on one of the many landscaped surrounding garden patio areas. The luxuriant and serene quality of the lobby, situated at the foot of the tower in the private courtyard, is contrasted with the far-reaching city and lakeshore views of the upper balconies and roof terrace.

By working with cast-in-place concrete, Studio/RCL met the challange of the client's budgetary limitations. Uttilizing a local concrete manufacturing plant, RCL managed to produce a 50,000 square foot building with both structural and aesthetic integrity. The concrete structure allowed for a design that produced guest rooms with unobstructed views to the Okanagan lake and surrounding hillsides. The concrete structure also afforded an effective frame for the glass work of the lobby and pool which allowed clear views toward the courtyard and garden areas creating an extremely open and expansive quality to these areas.

The indoor/outdoor design of the swiming pool was achieved by using bi-fold glass walls which could be electronically controlled to fold up or down depending on the climate conditions surrounding the pool. In the summer, the walls are usually left in the folded "up" position while in the winter they are folded "down". Thus allowing great flexibility and saving heating costs.

Although the hotel owners did not request large balconies for the guest rooms, Studio/RCL designed the tower to accommodate balconies with a depth of 6 feet. This feature has turned out to be one of the most saleable and popular elements of the hotel tower. With space for two chairs and a table, the balconies can be enjoyed year-round creating a high demand for the tower guest rooms and suites.

Originally, the City of Kelowna required that the roof of the hotel tower conform to the traditional "peaked" roof style. However, Studio/RCL was able to convince them to allow the design of a landscaped roof terrace that would be accessible to guests and suitable for receptions and parties. The terrace has since become a popular spot for guests to relax and enjoy the panoramic vistas, late-afternoon sunsets and evening stargazing.