Aedas was invited by Grosvenor to undertake the detail design of a 4-star landmark hotel for Hilton at the southern crescent of Liverpool One. The new Liverpool Hilton forms a prominent landmark and gateway to the Paradise Project linking the retail area to the Mersey waterfront with its north facade is part of the arc defining the boundary to the parkland.
In accordance with Grosvenors brief this luxury ten storey state-of-the-art hotel features 215 guest rooms over six floors, with a presidential suite, nine meeting rooms, a ballroom, restaurant, bar and coffee shop and gym, with 47 residential apartments to the to the upper three floors of the development. The hotel serves as one of the largest and most striking features of Grosvenors massive Liverpool One mixed use development.
The design of the hotel is in response to the 19th and early 20th Century classical buildings for which Liverpool is noted. The building was conceived as a simple, formal composition using a limited palette of materials and colours. The external facades are clad in sparkling white Spanish dolomite reconstructed stone cladding chosen for its clean simple aesthetics.
The structure of this pre-cast masonry building is based on a repetitive module planned around the geometry of the curve. The curve allows for the maximum degree of repetition of individual components. The buildings faades have been designed to express their internal uses. While the public areas provide maximum visibility into and out of the hotel through double height glazing, the guest room floors afford more privacy by reducing the amount of glazing and introducing white concrete panels into the faades.
The north and south faades demonstrate a regular rhythm of white pre-cast concrete panels whilst more freedom is extended to the east and west faades with the irregular spacing of the structural white pre-cast concrete fins, contrasting against the deeply shrouded glazed areas. The lower public floors to the north faade have a double-height colonnade running the length of the north elevation acting as a threshold between the hotel public spaces and the parkland. The top three floors of residential apartments represent the crown to the building and are further simplified, with white structural precast concrete fins and structural glazing set back from the faade.
The hotel was designed with two entrances on opposite faades one for the guests, and another for the general public. On the glazed north faade the bar, coffee shop and restaurant areas spill out onto the colonnade and parkland giving the hotel a very public frontage and creating an additional source of revenue for the hotel.
The main entrance on the west faade of the hotel fronts the busy main arterial road into and out of Liverpool, from which theres a drop off and pick up zone for hotel guests; the remainder of the site is pedestrianised on three sides. Due to the nature of the island site and potential future plans of the city planners to reinstate the tram lines adjacent the south facade, the area available for the vehicular drop off zone was very restricted. Hence, the drop off zone was designed to allow the smaller vehicles to drive between the portico columns whilst the large coaches veer on to Thomas Steers Way with the entire area controlled by a system of intercoms and bollards operated by the hotel.
Construction and Programme Constraints
Due to the complex nature of the site due to the adjacent development works and potential problematic deliveries to site the decision was taken to manufacture as many components as possible off site.
The hotel has an in-situ concrete basement, with an in-situ concrete frame from ground to the second floor. From the second floor to the roof, the structure is a series of pre-cast concrete panels forming the internal walls and floors with the two stair cores providing the rigidity at either end of the building.
A section of the south faade over-sails the Mersey Travel Ticket Office; this was achieved by designing the lift core wall to act as a cantilever supporting the second floor slab below. The permanent transfer slab at second floor was designed to take construction loads of up to 4 floors and walls above. Once the walls up to 6th floor were constructed the lift core was sufficiently high to act as a cantilever.
The gable frames were originally designed as in-situ concrete to receive pre-cast concrete cladding. However, during construction, programme advantages were identified by changing from in-situ frames to fully pre-cast above second floor level. The irregular spacing of the fins/columns to the gable ends at alternate floor levels led to the need for transfer beams at these levels. The change to pre-cast also led to the need for isolation joints between the external pre-cast columns and beams and the internal slabs in order to avoid cold bridging.
The bathrooms to the guest rooms were designed as pods, manufactured off site in Ireland, shipped over to Liverpool and craned into position on arrival due to lack of storage space. This pre-cast concrete method of construction and procurement programme together commanded a very regimental management regime.
The wall panels to the facades were manufactured off site, delivered to programme and fixed to the structure directly from the trailer, avoiding the need for scaffolding and associated site preliminaries.
The Liverpool Hilton hotel was designed late summer 2006 and obtained planning permission autumn 2006. Start on site began in Spring 2007 with the hotel opening to guests in November 2009.