The hotels of the future will be collapsible and mobile, moving on train tracks, dangling from the Eiffel Tower and perching over roof tops, predict this year’s three professional finalists and two student winners of Radical Innovation, a closely watched global competition asking architects to reimagine hospitality design. Now in its 13th year, the contest combines Shark Tank-like presentations with cocktails and networking. On October 16, SB Architects, Cooper Carry and Danny Forster & Architecture will pitch hospitality, architecture and design industry leaders at Manhattan’s New Museum, vying to win their colleagues’ votes for the $10,000 grand prize and $5,000 runner-up awards.

They walked Worth through their proposals:

Rendering courtesy of SB Architects

Infinite Explorer

SB Architects, San Francisco

“We were looking at a way to focus on something that has infrastructure in place and can tap into the natural resources of the West,” says Matt Page, vice president and associate principal at SB Architects. The solution: using existing western railways, some of which are long abandoned. SB Architects would outfit its train with luxury sleeper cars, offering features like private decks where travelers can dine with a view of the Rockies. Unlike typical trains, the Infinite Explorer would stop in remote, otherwise inaccessible locations. “Our train opens up and out, so you can go out on your own deck or to an experiential deck focused on wellness and activity,” Page says. He and his colleagues also envision excursions to hike, fish, kayak, visit mud baths and even forage for local food. “Maybe there’s a great truffle location. You can pick them, and the chef will cook them for you,” Page says. “Our design really minimizes the impact and the footprint, because the train is the hotel, and the amenities are the surrounding area.”


Worthy 100 2023

Rendering courtesy of Danny Forster & Architecture

Volumetric High-Rise Modular Hotel

Danny Forster & Architecture, New York

Currently building the entirely modular AC Marriott hotel in midtown Manhattan, architect Danny Forster is also building a new approach to designing hospitality spaces. Using patented virtual reality software that allows the building’s owners, lenders, insurance agents, architects and contractors to view sample units built in a Krakow, Poland, steel factory, Forster has created a mechanism for efficiency. “It requires a tremendous amount of technology and coordination,” Forster says. “Everything has to be fully documented and designed very early in the process, which is not how architects and builders traditionally work.” Due to be completed next year, the hotel is comprised of six-sided volumetric structural steel modules arranged around a cement core. The modules are entirely self-contained, with all the elements of a hotel room and bathroom, and their finishes are completely customizable. “The technologies and processes we’re developing are meant to be a validation of the modular methodology, and meant to be repeated on subsequent projects,” Forster says. “At a core structural level, this represents a profound transformation of how we build things.”

Rendering courtesy of Cooper Carry


Cooper Carry, New York

Inspired by the popularity of pop-up spaces and the rise of Airbnb, project manager and architect Shraddha Srivastav Strennen and fellow architect Allison Clark envision collapsible, stackable, storable, transportable and reusable modules. Easy to assemble and made of carbon fiber (which is both lighter and significantly stronger than steel) with inflatable ETFE panels, the truncated octahedrons, Strennen says, “could aggregate to swell and shrink as needed, to form single-unit rooms, suites or event spaces.” Notably, they can adapt to any environment or location. Strennen and Clark say the Connectic kits are perfect for temporary events like the Super Bowl or Wimbledon, and equally appealing to a generation of Instagrammers looking for novel lodging. “Imagine these underneath, or hanging from, the Eiffel Tower,” Clark says. “It allows for an opportunity to stay in an area that might not have been available before.”

Rendering courtesy of Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin

Rooftop Hotel Gardens

Student winners Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin, Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering, Russia

Student winners Ruslan Mannapov and Airat Zaidullin approached New York with a decidedly Edenic bent, adding modular lodging options to the city’s hotel rooftops. The duo envisions prefabricated modules coated in metallic and mirrored glass to blend with the city’s landscape, and mounted on columns. “This will allow modules to be brought closer to the edge of the roof and create an individual terrace under each of them,” Mannapov explains. “Modules can be autonomous and serviced once a season or connected to the building infrastructure.” The network of Rooftop Hotel Gardens will include garden lobbies; socializing, sunbathing and swimming; and an app to book rooms and request luggage transportation.