A Look at What’s New in Retail and Hospitality Design

Today’s products help create better results
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Sponsored by Construction Specialties, Inpro, Mitsubishi Electric Cooling & Heating, and NanaWall Systems
By Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP
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Elevator Renovation

Many retail and virtually all hospitality buildings include elevators either for convenience or to meet accessibility requirements. From a design standpoint, the cabs of these elevators should not be overlooked since it is a very real part of the user experience of many guests or customers. If addressed properly, they can be an integral part of the interior design of a facility with the integrity and durability to hold up to heavy use from people, carts, etc.

As an elevator is used over time, the cab interiors can get damaged, especially if they are used for both passengers and freight. Even with the best padded intentions, dollies, bell carts, suitcases, freight, and furniture can gouge and scuff walls inside the elevator. The better way to address this potential damage is with protective wall panels and handrails that can resist these forces and keep the inside of the cab looking good.

In addition to needing protection, it is possible for the cab to look outdated over time just like other interior schemes. Further, the lighting in an elevator cab needs to be adequate and maintained so that it doesn’t provide a dim, unattractive experience. Given these concerns, many designers are turning to preconfigured elevator cab renovation packages to breathe new life back into existing elevators or even starting out with them in new elevator cabs. Such packages can include new wall panels, new ceiling grids and panels, new handrails, and new lighting. As a package, they can be coordinated to meet the demands for durability and the interior design scheme that is sought.

One critical aspect to bear in mind is that interior cab renovations often cannot be allowed to take the cab out of service for any extended period of time. Taking a cab down for renovation increases the potential for longer wait times, as the same number of passengers have fewer cabs to ride in. Ideally, then, cab renovation materials and processes should be designed to cut downtime to a bare minimum. Toward that end, renovation packages can be designed for simple and easy modular installation.

Photo of an elevator.

Photo courtesy of Inpro

Elevator cabs can be renovated with complete coordinated packages to address durability and interior design, including wall panels, handrails, ceiling panels, and lighting.

Common Area Restrooms

One of the places that can make a significant impression on people, either positively or negatively, is the restrooms in a facility. There are jokes made about gas station bathrooms, and the reason the jokes work is because of the stereotype of grunge and damage. In hospitality and restaurant settings, the restrooms often see a good amount of traffic, and it wouldn’t be favorable to have them look like the ones in the jokes. Public restrooms that are unclean and littered from overflowing waste receptacles are bad enough. But, partitions and privacy panels that are dirty, rusty, chipped, or otherwise unsightly don’t bode well with patrons either.

One design option to overcome the potential shortcoming of restrooms is to outfit them with solid surface partitions and privacy panels that are inherently more durable while offering a higher-end décor. Solid surface material is available that is antimicrobial and nonporous and prevents the growth of mold and mildew, which can result in reduced maintenance and cleaning. Another great advantage to solid surface partitions is that they are vandal resistant and clean without ghosting. If solid surface partitions with reinforced wood cores are used, they can also simplify installation and handling. Overall, they can be a preferred choice to create a sense of cleanliness and integrity in an otherwise humble space.

Photo of a bathroom interior.

Photo courtesy of Inpro

Solid surface partitions and privacy screens in rest rooms can provide the needed look of cleanliness and hold up against heavy use or abuse.


Retail and hospitality facilities need to be well designed in order to function well, look appealing to customers, provide comfort, and hold up against heavy use and even abuse. Achieving all of these objectives requires attention to the use of products, materials, and systems that can come together in a design to be successful. Using some or all of the strategies described in this course can help architects and designers achieve that success while owners and operators reap the long-term benefits.

Peter J. Arsenault, FAIA, NCARB, LEED AP, is a practicing architect, green building consultant, continuing education presenter, and prolific author engaged nationwide in advancing building performance through better design. www.linkedin.com/in/pjaarch

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[ Page 5 of 5 ]       
Originally published in Architectural Record


A Look at What’s New in Retail and Hospitality Design
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