Why The Hotel Lobby Is The Office Of The Future

Why The Hotel Lobby Is The Office Of The Future

The hotel's public spaces can be dynamically redefined to meet the needs of the untethered workforce of modern professionals.

  • 6 february 2014

PSFK has partnered with real-estate crowdfunding company Prodigy Network to crowdsource the designs for their most recent project 17Johnan innovative hotel in the heart of New York City’s Financial District. This series of articles provides inspiration for readers wishing to be a part of the project and join the crowd in designing the first Cotel.

At any given moment, today’s global traveler may want to take a personal call, handle a business meeting or host a social gathering. Given this new set of expectations, a hotel’s public spaces have to evolve their design to accommodate the diverse needs of all of its guests, often at the same time. The traditional view of hotel lobbies as no frills waiting areas or passageways to guest rooms is being replaced by one that tends more towards dynamic spaces that cater to the demands of untethered workforce of professionals, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, offering experiences that guests will want to share while encouraging them to spend more time in the space.


Partitions and fixed-furniture solutions are giving way to flexible furnishings that can adapt throughout the day to meet virtually any scenario from work to play. One example of this, comes courtesy of Singapore-based architect and designer Dymitr Malcew, who has designed modular furniture that can be joined together or positioned separately according to the needs of the workforce. Created for co-working spaces, the treehouse-inspired pieces can be combined into a meeting room or positioned separately to form semi-private work areas, creating an ideal workplace environment for creativity and collaboration.

As floor plans become more open and communal, we’ll see a growing need for privacy, as workers seek quiet spaces in the midst of busy environments. Emerging soundproofing technologies can offer flexible options without compromising the overall design. One such solution is a pink noise system by software brand Autodesk that minimizes noise distractions in shared workspaces by playing a continuous sound at the same frequency as human voices to wash out nearby conversations. Sounding similar to a ventilation system or ocean waves, the system increases productivity and focus without requiring costly infrastructure.

Beyond the look and feel of the physical space, travelers are looking for curated services and experiences that give them an extra dose of culture or inspiration in the midst of their trip. With focus on empowering a creative workforce, the Hospital Club in London provides a range of services to its members, including a music studio, gallery, screening room, and a high-definition TV studio, in addition to more traditional offerings like restaurants and private meeting rooms. The club has all of the accoutrements of a live-broadcast studio, enabling creatives to take their ideas from inception, to storyboard, to live-stream. Ultimately, the club aims to facilitate connections between members of the creative community and inspire content and collaboration.


In most instances, building a strong and active community is what truly breathes life into any space, giving people a reason to congregate and share great ideas. In New York City, a new residential apartment building has set aside dedicated communal spaces to create a real life social network around business and leisure. Residents of 101W15 by Stonehenge can meet up in a the lounge, which is equipped with Wi-Fi, flat-dash screen TVs and a wired communal work table, or watch movies hosted on the rooftop deck.

Replicating these same types of hybrid spaces within a hotel setting could foster serendipitous conversations amongst guests, and uncover the loose connections that could lead to a valuable friendship or business partnership. Whether by providing the digital tools to meet the demands of a modern workforce or building flexibility into the design of a space which allows for an equal measures of privacy and play, these solutions are empowering a creative workforce with an ever-changing set of needs. Taken in sum, these ideas could all contribute to a re-envisioning of the public spaces which constitute our hotel experience, impacting the ways we socialize, network, and work while on the go.

Over the next few weeks, the PSFK Labs team will examine several trends driving changes around work, lifestyle and health and discuss their impact on the modern business traveler. Each week on, we will showcase innovation in collaborative/public space, private space, digital services and branding, with the goal of generating a conversation around improving modern day hotel offerings. The ideas and inspiration we will explore throughout this series will serve as a springboard for the creation of New York’s first crowd-designed, crowd-funded Cotel – 17John.

Located at 17 John Street in Manhattan’s Financial District, this Cotel will be a realization of the best and brightest ideas for the modern hotel experience, which will be gathered by a public design competition hosted by Prodigy Network. The collaborative foundation of the crowdfunding model for the Cotel 17John integrates the community in an extension of its mission to create a place for people to connect in the new economy. The competition will launch on February 20th at Social Media Week in New York. Register with Prodigy’s new Crowdsourcing platform,, to receive the latest updates. Stay tuned for further details on as we evolve the conversation around the exciting design challenges that will be vital in shaping the world’s first Cotel.

Contributed by Tim Ryan.

Prodigy Network is known as a pioneer in crowdfunding for real estate. In 2009—after more than 29 projects—Prodigy Network developed an innovative investment  model for crowdfunding in real estate, becoming the world’s leading platform in the field. By doing so, Prodigy introduced a way of democratizing investment opportunities for large-scale projects. Prodigy Network believes that community and transparency are essential to success in real estate. 


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