Designed by HKS Hill Glazier studio, Cliffhanger is the ultimate hotel experience based on the concept of suspension in space and immersion in environment.  In October 2009, the project received a Radical Innovation in Hospitality Honorable Mention Award from Hospitality Design magazine.

With its modular design, the experience can be recreated in many locations across the world. Such locations could include the golden gate bridge, California’s redwood forests and an ice fissure in the Andes. Each hotel will follow the same principles of suspension and immersion, with emphasis on minimizing the ecological footprint on the site. The idea is threefold: get in quickly and efficiently, enjoy the location, then remove all traces of the hotel and human impact as one leaves.

The modular concept, based on a vertical, structural truss suspended with tension rods, embraces a stack of individual guestrooms–one per floor–to maximize the drama of the surrounding environment. Guests immerse themselves in panoramic views.

Interiors will transform slightly as a response to local surroundings through colors and finishes.

Guest arrival will occur by car or helicopter atop the cliff. Entering the organic pathway offering a framed window to the Grand Canyon, guests will be directed to a state-of-the-art elevator that will transport them to a dramatic 4-story glass lobby–the pinnacle of the hanging structure–overlooking the Grand Canyon below.

Passing the cozy lounge area and the concierge check-in desk, guests will walk to the grand stairs leading them to the bar/tapas lounge.

Cliffhanger includes 27 organic contemporary guestrooms with colorful local accents and materials used to furnish the rooms.

Upon entering a suite, the guest will experience a 180-degree view of the Grand Canyon. Opening the glass sliding door to the right reveals the bathroom. The guest will see a double vanity with two counter leaver sinks and a large mirror. To the right of the vanity, they will have a walk-in closet and a private Water Closet. To the left, they will enter the wet room, with its rain and double head shower and infinity tub. A sliding door to the terrace will lead them to their outdoor shower and mini spa-like lounge area, a unique personal amenity offered with every suite.

An open fireplace divides the bedroom and the living space. All suites will feature a king bed with two organic side tables and red pendants, creating the setting for a romantic and adventurous experience at Cliffhanger. The lounge area will feature a custom lounge sofa accented by a cowhide rug. Guests will discover a Macbook on the wooden coffee table, offering a paper-free method to browse concierge services, plan adventurous day trips, download trip photographs, catch up with friends and family and control the suite’s electronic environmental systems. Each offers a high-end Klipsch sound system, and each room features a large terrace overlooking the grand canyon with lounge seating for further immersion in the experience.

To provide electricity without tapping the electrical grid, cliffhanger unfurls a solar-tracking photovoltaic array that rests on the canyon rim, collecting energy from the tremendous natural resource of the sun, while welcoming guests and visitors with a visual clue to the ecological sensitivity of the hotel. Sized to accommodate the electricity needs of the hotel, this array shares the same minimal site impact as the hotel itself, designed for quick and easy transport and installation with modular components for scalability to particular locations.

Utilizing electrochromic glass with a triple-glazed system, cliffhanger effectively mitigates solar gain during the early morning hours of the summer before the shading of the south-facing balconies can be fully realized. Assigned to an electronic timing system, a CPU calculates solar altitude and azimuth for the exact location of the unit each minute of every day, automatically engaging the electrochromic system to keep the guestroom temperature comfortable and reduce unnecessary solar gain in the summer, while welcoming it in the winter to allow for passive solar heating.

Selectively allowing sunlight to penetrate the glass envelope and strike the concrete floors of the guestroom provides a means for storing heat in the thermal mass of the concrete slab. In the high-desert environment of the Grand Canyon, this method allows the slab to store heat during the day when ambient temperatures are high, helping to reduce the cooling load on systems. At night, when the ambient temperature drops, this heat radiates back into the space, thus reducing heating loads.

Positioning the exterior shower wall to capture morning sunlight allows the capture and storage of solar energy to heat water for showers, providing a thoughtful integration of passive sustainability with the forward-thinking technology of cliffhanger’s environmental systems.

With analysis and consideration of the ecological character of a location as well as the natural resources inherent in the site, Cliffhanger seeks to challenge existing hotel norms and inform a new way of thinking about travel, leisure and enjoying the vast richness of the wonders of our natural world. As the prototype to a growing list of potential locations, cliffhanger establishes qualitative goals rather than seeking to influence individual project program or methodology. Suspension in space, immersion in environment.

Building Activity