A new Four Seasons Hotel, designed by specialist hotel architects ReardonSmith, opened in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan. The Four Seasons building is said to reference the French Beaux-Arts style of the late 19th Century, just as directed by the owner.
According to Conrad Smith, managing director of ReardonSmith Architects, the "external appearance of the building was as much influenced by its internal requirements as by the desire to create a certain style of façade.” Since the property is a traditional building, the designers researched the Beaux-Arts period to make sure that the detailing is authentic to avoid pastiche.
Situated on a crossroads overlooking the Caspian Sea, the key to unlocking the site is said to be the location of the main entrance on the sea-facing elevation, together with the creation of a colonnade the length of the façade. This eliminated the potential of traffic congestion around the arrival point since limousines could cruise through the colonnade to the hotel entrance, and then to the underground parking entrance accommodated within a rotunda on the corner of the building. Classically detailed bronze door and window frames as well as iron railings and balustrading to the guestroom balconies embody the decorative charm of the Beaux-Arts movement.
The ground floor plan inside flows from the exterior. Designed on a primary and a secondary axis, the layout means that guests arriving in the entrance lobby in the center of the building can see at a glance the key public areas to each side, including the all-day dining restaurant, a bar and lounge areas, and the lift lobby ahead. A feature staircase takes guests to the first floor which is entirely dedicated to banqueting.
The property’s ballroom is 6,458 square feet and is column-free.
There are a total of 175 guestrooms and suites. All the guestrooms are sized with an average footprint of over 559 square feet and, since the corridors are single loaded, each room offers a view of either Baku or the Caspian Sea. This plan resulted in a space in the center of the seven guest floors within which ReardonSmith has designed a “Roman basilica” with a height of 39 feet under a vaulted ceiling and housing a swimming pool. The rooftop spa has numerous treatment rooms, a hammam and wet areas nestled under a glazed roof with a marble-encased hot tub area extending into one of the domes. A specialty restaurant and bar as well as a number of private dining rooms are also accommodated on the top floor.
The building is clad in local, pale-toned stone and has a pre-patinated copper roof.
In addition to ReardonSmith, members of the professional team were: Richmond International – interior design; Ural Engineering – structural engineering; MMM – mechanical and engineering.