Thursday, January 10, 2013

4 Questions with Edward, Leo and Heath

Not an ocean view, not city skyline view, but a suspended-on-a-cliff view. 

I caught up with Edward Abeyta, Leo Ahmes and Heath May from HKS Architects, Inc. this week to find out more about their infamous Cliffhanger hotel that won an honorable mention at Radical Innovation 2009...

Cliffhanger has turned many heads ever since Radical Innovation in 2009. Could you explain what prompted your team to create it?

Upon discovering the Radical Innovation competition, Eddie, Leocadie and I realized that this would be a perfect avenue to explore ideas.  With each of us bringing a different background and different experiences, we found a number of catalysts for the idea.  The thought of total immersion in one’s environment led us to consider a way to provide a completely new way to experience the wonders around us.  We wanted to also think about how we can minimize the human footprint in these beautiful locations, which would prove a challenge in the Grand Canyon location we explored.

Other than the Grand Canyon, which is your other top choice of location for the Cliffhanger and why.

We considered a handful of other locations, including an ice fissure in the Andes and under the Golden Gate Bridge – but the possibility of suspending a self-contained hospitality experience within a redwood forest on the U.S. Pacific coast excites us.

Do you see Cliffhanger becoming a reality? What obstacles do you have to overcome to make it happen?

We see some of the ideas of Cliffhanger becoming a reality, but we also see the realities of structural and mechanical obstacles.  To address these obstacles, we choose to imagine. This would hopefully challenge ourselves, and the building professionals we collaborate with, to promote innovative problem solving.

What does Radical Innovation mean to your team and the future of your creations?

The idea of radical innovation is something that we see as integral to the creative process. We cannot pretend to know all the answers – not knowing the answer, or even willfully ignoring the obstacle, allows us to move through the unknown to successfully challenge the obstacles. 

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