Regent Singapore Hotel

Singapore, Singapore | C.1982

Photo Credit: Matias Galeano

The Regent Singapore is a luxury hotel designed by American architect John Portman in 1982. Portman revolutionized hotel designs in the United States, then Asia, ingeniously using colossal spaces and blending modernist and brutalist elements to inspire and overwhelm guests. His iconic designs have even been embraced by Hollywood for their dystopian, sci-fi quality.

Standing in the middle of the Regent Singapore’s bright, expansive, pyramid-like atrium causes a disorienting shift in one’s spatial perceptions. Looking out from the hotel’s interior balconies gives one a full view of the cavernous space extending from the lobby’s black marble fountain to the skylight twelve dizzying stories above. Meanwhile, one can trace the path of every guest as they journey through the hotel on exposed spiral staircases, open walkways, and glass capsule elevators.

Influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, who synchronized his buildings with the needs of the people who used them, Portman ardently believes that open spaces relieve anxiety—particularly in congested cities like Singapore. He wanted his own buildings, especially hotels, to be oases.

His structures prioritize the human experience. Take his signature glass elevators: “Everyone talks on a glass elevator,” he explained to the New York Times. “You get on a closed-in elevator, everyone looks down at their shoes. A glass elevator lets people’s spirits expand. Architecture should be a symphony.”

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