Born in Johannesburg, South Africa, second-generation principal architect Michael Crosby of Wilson Associates has been in the United States for 20 years and is currently living in Dallas, Texas. He has designed some of most sophisticated, award-winning luxury retreats in the world.
For more than 45 years, Wilson Associates’ dynamic talent and collaborative spirit have inspired and created some of the world’s most iconic, avant-garde spaces, among them the Conrad Koh Samui; The Venetian Las Vegas; Dorado Beach, a Ritz-Carlton Reserve; and the Armani Hotel Dubai. Wilson has a strong international footprint, with more than 300 team members spanning six continents and design hubs in 10 cities: Bangkok, Dallas, Dubai, London, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Shanghai, Singapore and Tokyo.
Wilson Associates has been ranked in Interior Design magazine’s list of Hospitality Giants, this year again as No. 3. Having already received multiple prestigious Gold Key Awards, the firm’s RP Heights at Downtown Dubai project was named 2017 Best Residential Design Project in Dubai by the INDEX Architecture and Design Awards. Recently, the interior architecture design firm announced a strategic alliance with Zaha Hadid Architects and Arcplus.
Refined Travellers spoke with Michael about the future of sustainable architecture and design.
What do you think the future holds for sustainable architecture and design?
There is certainly a global awareness and an initiative to include more sustainable practices in architecture and design, especially in terms of incorporating more sustainable materials. It’s becoming more of a global social expectation that builders practice more environmentally friendly and sustainable methods.
What sorts of measures should designers enforce to maintain sustainability?
Designers can incorporate some small and simple things, such as design of sustainable water usage, water and garbage disposal, recycling programs, energy-efficient glazing, and the use of local materials. For example, incorporating highly sustainable material resources such as bamboo is a small way to practice more sustainable design.
Which project do you recall was the most memorable or challenging?
The Palazzo in Las Vegas was the world’s largest LEED-certified building when it opened. Considering it was a 50-story tower, the hotel still undertook careful measures to ensure significant sustainability practices. It even provided additional parking spaces for bicycles to encourage less driving. The Palazzo does thousands of pounds of laundry a day, and water recycling is a key component for it to operate a truly sustainable hotel.
What are the three things you aim to accomplish with each project?
Primarily we aim to achieve great design. At the same time select great materials that are sustainable and locally sourced, and also have a low impact in the building process. It’s also important to remain mindful and considerate of the local community surrounding the project. We’re ever possible connecting guests to an experience, to a view, to the outdoors or nature, so we can give them a sense of where they are, giving them a more environmentally aware experience.
What steps have you taken to ensure sustainability in your designs?
As I mentioned, the choice of materials is especially important. For instance, for The Ritz-Carlton Reserve, Dorado Beach in Puerto Rico, we had to ensure that the materials we selected were sourced from within a 500-mile radius. For instance, one of the stones we sourced came from the Dominican Republic.
Which key projects are in the pipeline for Wilson Associates in the next 12–24 months?
We have myriad projects in various stages of production all over the world! Some that come to mind are the Timbers Kaua’i in Hawaii that is under construction, the Skye Niseko condo resort in Japan, residential work and large resort hotel developments in China, as well as extensive renovation and new build projects in the U.S.
Written By: Adriane Rysz