Restoring a historic hotel in Georgia
Some buildings have incredible histories. The 19 storey Iveria Hotel in Tblisi, Georgia, is one of them. Originally built in the 1960s, it fell into disrepair and was used as a refugee camp for 800 people in the 1990s.
This is a fine example of a project where BuroHappold was brought in to work initially on a small area, but added enormous value when our role was expanded to include building services, supervision of structural engineering and making sure the building was protected against earthquakes, prevalent in the region.
The Silk Road Group, the new owners of the hotel, wanted to keep the original structure to ensure that they would have a high-rise hotel of historic significance. There were concerns that, if the building were to be demolished, permission for another high-rise on the same site would be denied. So we were engaged to work together with the local structural engineers to find a way to strengthen the original structure while improving the use of space.
Residents of Tblisi also wanted the building preserved as it is considered an important symbol of Georgian history. However, with all of the interior dismantled, all that was left was the concrete skeleton of the building.
There was also a concern surrounding energy supply, which is not 100% reliable.
Part of our brief for this project was to maximise space and clear storey height to add value. We worked around the existing structural beams and removed and rebuilt the concrete floors, which allowed us to make the most of the space available. Additionally, a new spa and technic floor were added on top of the existing structure, together with extensions of the floors either side of the building.
Through strengthening the existing structure of the Iveria Hotel we were able to meet international seismic standards, protecting the building against earthquakes in the region. This also enabled further and more efficient use of each storey, having rebuilt the internal floors. Reconstructing the floors on each level increased our potential to use the space, thereby enlarging and increasing the value of the 249 rooms.
To solve the energy supply problem our building services team came up with a powerful plan. We installed an emergency power system to enable the Iveria to operate independently from the rest of Tblisi. Stand-by power units were included, along with a water supply system and fuel tanks to bridge any interruption in the energy supply.
By strengthening the structure to bring it up to international standards we saved the Iveria Hotel from demolition – saving planning, demolition and rebuilding costs. Our expert local teams, with support from our international offices, provided the necessary insight to retain this iconic symbol of Georgian culture and history.
Our international approach to the design of all building services systems means that the hotel will fulfil the highest standards demanded by international customers and will not be subject to the unreliable grid in Georgia.
Services and approach
When we integrate our specialist teams around an approach, the benefits to the client multiply