Design trends for three industries

August 11, 2010

That great "daily diary of the American Dream," the Wall Street Journal, recently issued, in its November 22 edition, a list of "The Top 10 Trends in 10 Industries." While trends in movies, toys, insurance, fashion, cars, books, and beverages are a little outside our niche, those in hospitals, lodging, and restaurants merit consideration here.

For our purposes, the most exciting trend is in the healthcare industry, where the Journal expects that "the graying of the baby-boom generation and the aging of facilities themselves have spurred an unexpected boom in new hospital construction," which should exceed $10 billion in 2005. Our own Jim Haughey, construction industry economist for Reed Business Information, says overall healthcare construction spending, including medical offices, specialty centers, and support facilities, could top $33 billion next year. (For more of Haughey's economic indicators for '05, see p. 14.)

Strong healthcare markets, according to the Journal: Las Vegas, and the entire state of California (due to the new seismic rules requiring hospitals in that state to be able to operate even in the event of a Northridge-like earthquake).

As we noted in our February '03 and '04 healthcare issues, the semiprivate hospital room is going the way of the dodo. The Journal, too, notes that private rooms for every patient often — with some sort of "family" component, such as sleeping areas and kitchens for family members — are the thing, as are private elevators that separate patients from visitors and the public.

Greater emphasis on patient privacy is also being designed into hospital settings, so that caregivers, patients, and their families can discuss delicate health matters without fear of being overheard (this is also being propelled by the privacy requirements of HIPAA, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act).

Turning to the hospitality sector, while it is nowhere near as robust as the healthcare construction market, there should be a continuing turnaround in the industry in 2005. Hotel occupancy rates are up, and so is revenue per available room, the Journal reports. Room rates should be up 3.7% next year, another nice indication of the strength of the market — although not so nice if you're a guest and not the hotel developer, owner, architect, or contractor.

The big trend in hotel design? Boutiques, says the Journal, pointing to Starwood's W chain and InterContinental's forthcoming Hotel Indigo concept. The new addition to the Atlanta skyline uses indigo-toned color schemes to create a sense of "high peace" for its business-traveler guests. Also hot: comfy lobbies, where biz travelers can socialize or just "people watch."

As for the restaurant sector, the Journal's editors see more "multibranded" chain outlets — not just the KFC and Taco Bell under one roof that you've seen, but also a Wendy's combined with a Tim Horton's, the Canadian chain. Speaking of Wendy's, the Journal says the company is experimenting with two modern interior and exterior designs, "each airy, well lighted, and including a table that seats eight customers," to attract more in-store customers.


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