To the Victor Go the Spoils; And Spoiled Dallas is with Its New W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences

hotel_W_dallas_1A state known for thinking big and living large, it comes as no surprise that Texas is home to one of the most ambitious urban redevelopment projects in the country. To counteract the urban sprawl that drew businesses and residents from downtown, the Dallas Brownfield Program was created to stimulate development into the declining areas of the city. In 1998, the Victory Project began with the construction of the highly successful American Airlines Center (AAC), home of the Dallas Mavericks and Dallas Stars. The many fans flocking to the AAC may be unaware that their new civic showcase stands on a formerly unusable brownfield site, which housed a Dallas Electric Company generating plant, built in 1890. Since its completion in 2001, the AAC stood alone, but now area visitors will finally have a place to live, work, stay and play. In 2005, Phase II of the project began, called Victory Park, the more than $3 billion, 75 acre mixed-use development comprised of a mix of high-end residential, retail, indoor and outdoor recreation facilities, a 45-story office tower, a museum, and an upscale hotel.

Located in the center of this luxury playground is the W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences, serving as a signature beacon standing out against the Dallas skyline with its modern and simple clean lines. With its recent opening in June 2006, the new W Hotel and Residences will serve as the catalyst to spur the remaining projects in the master plan for the Victory development. The $100 million, one million-square-foot project includes two adjacent towers rising from a shared footprint. Combined, the 33-story north tower and the 15-story south tower feature 252 hotel guestrooms, 150 luxury residences, spa and fitness center, upscale steakhouse, and the trendy Vegas-style Ghostbar.

hotel_W_dallas_skylineBecoming almost synonymous with high-rise hotel and condominium construction, post-tensioned flat plate concrete construction was the chosen structural framing system. Advantageous for maximizing floor-to-ceiling space while minimizing structural floor depth, the overall structural height of the 33-story tower tops out at 438 feet, while accommodating ceiling heights ranging from 9- to 14-feet. The structure is comprised of continuous 28-foot bays in one direction and only three bays in the transverse direction, measuring 22 feet 10 inches at the exterior bays and 14 feet 4 inches at the interior bay. In the hotel zone, a 7½ -inch thick slab was necessary for the longer 28 foot spans, using a concrete strength of 5,000 psi. In lieu of using drop panels, shear stud rails were designed to resist the critical punching shear to further economize the design. The resulting flat soffit was also an architectural requirement, since the ceiling texture was applied directly to the underside of the slab to maximize the ceiling height for the typical 9 feet 6 inch floor to floor heights.

As the building occupancy transitions to the W Residences on the 16th floor, the floor to floor heights increase to 12 feet 0 inches for a luxury loft atmosphere. The top penthouse floors have been given a Texas-sized ceiling of 14 feet, just adding more to the living large mentality. The slab thickness throughout the condominiums is slightly greater at 8 inches. Although the occupancy loads do not differ from the hotel zone, the residence units are designed for an additional 3 inches of thinset topping with high-end tile or terrazzo floor finishes. The increased slab thickness useful in accommodating the cantilevered balconies for each residence, which exceeded lengths of 12 feet in some units. In the preliminary design stages a structural steel alternative was evaluated, but its higher comparative cost, deeper structural floor depths and the lateral cross-bracing made the concrete solution more desirable.

The most significant engineering challenge was designing for the 7:1 slenderness ratio. Since the footprint of the structure is very long and narrow, it became a difficult task to effectively transfer the lateral loads in the narrow three-bay direction. The final design incorporated a lateral-force-resisting system that consists primarily of 8,500 psi cast-in-place concrete shear walls, 18-inches thick, located around the elevator and stair cores and one room wall in the hotel levels, acting in conjunction with frame action. To increase the stiffness of the structure and decrease lateral drift, 40-inches wide by 18-inches deep spandrel beams were incorporated around the perimeter. The columns within the hotel zone are 30 inches square at the exterior and 24-by-42-inches for the interior core columns. In the condominiums, the columns switch to 30-inch diameter exposed concrete columns to achieve a trendier loft aesthetic.

Inside and out this structure speaks with a modern voice. The façade consists of a light gray punched precast system in the hotel section and follows up the exterior shear walls to the roof. The upper residence levels are clad with floor-to-ceiling curtain wall to exude the sleek look with clean lines. A contrasting limestone look with a light gray cast-stone sets apart the street entrances at the base, calling the passerby to enter.

hotel_W_dallas_nightThe highly visible, two-story, open-air atrium at the 16th floor certainly will attract even more attention. Appearing as if the upper stories are floating, eyes are drawn to this space with 25-foot ceilings and an amazing view, which houses an outdoor infinity-edge pool. Despite appearing to float, stiff structural framing systems occur above and below the atrium. Above the atrium, post-tensioned beams, 60-inches wide-by-36-inches deep, span for three bays in each direction to stiffen the soft-story. On the 16th floor, post-tensioned beams, 55½-inches-wide-by-38-inches deep, were incorporated to support the heavy pool loads. The added structural depth below the pool generated a 12 feet 2 inches floor to floor height for the 15th floor of the hotel. Since this only occurs in three out of the seven bays in the hotel space, the guestrooms directly below the typical flat plate have a generous 11 feet 6 inches clear height. Taking advantage of the extra space and the hotel’s close proximity to the AAC, these select guestrooms will likely host the basketball stars of visiting NBA teams. The W Dallas Victory Hotel and Residences will accommodate all their clientele with true Texas hospitality.

Credits

Owner and Developer:
Hillwood Capital, Dallas, Texas

Architect:
HKS, Inc., Dallas, Texas

Structural Engineer:
Brockette Davis Drake, Dallas, Texas

General Contractor:
McCarthy Building Companies, Dallas, Texas

Concrete Supplier:
Texas Industries (TXI), Dallas, Texas