In the heyday of disco, one way to tell you were in a great nightclub was by the quality of graffiti on the restroom walls. Not so much anymore. The new breed of nightclub is meticulously maintained and designed with a high level of finish and durable materials that will even stand up to the abuse inflicted by a stiletto heel. A trip to the powder room can transport patrons into a dazzling ambience not fund in their day-to-day venues, with comfortable seating that encourages lingering for a chat with girlfriends. The men’s lounge might include upscale amenities, such as humidors.
Nightclub design has to do with the pursuit of the unobtainable, according to George Kelly, principal of Kelly Architects in Los Angeles, whose team designed the 40,000-square-food Avalon Hollywood in LA during the Paris Hilton era. “Even though MAdonna didn’t actually hang out at Studio 54 very often, there was always the possibility that you might run into her.” says Kelly.
His nightclub designs take these sometimes unrealistic expectations into consideration. “First, you have to get a dirnk,” he says. There has to be a big bar somewhere up front. From that bar, there needs to be a view to another part of the club. You and your friend will see interesting people in the distance and say, “Who’s that? Let’s go over there,” and you start moving. “Of course, by the time you get to that next bar, the people have already gone,” Kelly adds. “So you say, ‘Let’s have another drink.’ Now, you have a different perspective of the space; you wonder where does that staircase go?”
Next thing you know you’ve been there three hours. “You’ve hd a number of drinks and you feel like you’ve been on this adventure, this pursuit,” says Kelly. Avalon Hollywood has 11 bars on its three floors. It’s going on 15 years, which, according to Kelly is phenomenal for a nightclub. “There are very few in the history of the United States that have gone on for that long.”
Operators also can build a loyal following by offering unique programming that others don’t. In Toronto, The Rec Room is a family-friend entertainment complex owned by Cineplex Entertainment LP. The facility offers more than 40,000 square feet of games and eats. It’s an “all ages” space until 11 p.m. After that, the entertainment- including a glam dance floor, high energy acts, and intimate performances- are geared toward an adult audience. But, The Rec Room is not a nightclub, according to Deni Poletti, prinicpal of Core Architects in Toronto.
"Rebel... is an invitation to forget about the drama for a few hours and live in the moment "
“The inference with nightclub is that it is open (only) during evenings and it caters to a specific group,” explains Poletti. “The planning of The Rec Room is very fluid. The layout is inclusive in nature and avoids any potential for segregation.” Adults and children move through the space freely and can participate in gaming, attend venues int he special veent space, or sit for a mela while enjoying televised sports on the big scren. The design was never conceived to transition betyween daytime use and evening use. All age groups concurrent;y can enjoy the various prgrammed elements The Rec Room has to offer.”
“E11EVEN Miami us known for choreographing its own music and show, which are similar to the aerial acrobatics shows you would see at a Cirque du Soleil event,” says Tom Telesco Jr., principal, Telesco Construction in Bay Harbor Island, Florida. Located downtown with easy access to South Beach, the 20,000-square-foot nightclub was designed around this immersive entertainment feature.
A round, architectural stage rises out of the ground during showtime. “It’s a key design element that satisfies the visual appetite of the clientele. It ensures everyone has a good view and adds a level of drama, too,” says Telesco, whose father, the late Tom Telesco St., designed E11EVEN Miami with veteran operator Dennis Degori, CEO and creator of 11 USA Group. The club’s state-of-the-art lighting. A rooftop pavilion deck with a retractable awning features an amphitheatre and outdoor bar, as well as an interior restaurant component.
Another creative business model has been put forth by Rebel Entertainment Complex, a Toronto venue extensively remodelled by Studio Munge. Rebel functions as a corporate day meeting space, as well as a concert hall. The nightclub’s design touches on four key themes: powerful sound, immersive light, sensual forms, and tactile details.
“International cities and luxury fashion were a key ingredient, as our original creative concept and mood stemmed from a Roberto Cavalli gown,” says Alessandro Munge, principal, Studio Munge. “Our narratives continued to evolve, and, by the time Rebel opened its doors, that lovely dress blossomed into a symbolic motif of a woman and animal.”
The back of the club was raised up a few steps to ensure the stage is visible from all angles, a feature that’s equally important during corporate presentations. Opposite the central podium are exceptional views of Lake Ontario, the CN Tower, and a sparkling cityscape.
“At the mezzanine level, the reserved booths and balconies will give you the most sensational high views of the stage and dance floor for an exclusive VIP treatment,” explains Munge. While very exclusive, Rebel’s VIP booths won’t ever feel like “downtime” and they remain high energy as they’re always visually connected to the crowd.
For the most daring patrons, additional VIP booths have been designed as split opened bird cages positions in the middle of the dance floor. “Those certainly don’t get quiet,” says Munge. “Humans love to dance; we are social and expressive creatures. Rebel, with its incredibly powerful sound system, immersive lighting, and sensual textures, is an invitation to forget the drama for a few hours and live in the moment.”
By Diana Mosher for i+D