As LWD celebrates more than a decade in design it completes the refurbishment of one of Beirut’s oldest hotels, which saw its 50th anniversary last year

Lars Waldenstrom joined forces with Morten Hansen, CEO, and Jesper Godsk, creative partner, in 1999 to found LW Design Group as an interior design consultancy.

The newly-formed design firm’s first major hospitality project was Abu Dhabi’s Rotana Beach Hotel in 2000, followed by Emirates Golf Club, which opened the doors to other projects in the region and cemented its reputation for creating contemporary, elegant commercial interiors.

Projects include; the Buddha Bar, Dubai, DXB Terminal 3, The Address Montgomerie, Grosvenor House, Dubai and Centro Hotel, Al Barsha.Colin Doyle, managing partner, joined LWD from RMJM in 2003 to head up an architectural division and Finn Theilgaard, managing partner, established the engineering arm of LWD in 2006.

Waldenstrom has since retired and what began as the vision of three men now has a staff of over 80 people based in Design House in Dubai Media City and an architectural office that has been operating in Auckland since 2007.

One of the firm’s latest projects was to refurbish the existing all day dining restaurant in one of Beirut’s most famous landmark hotels, the Phoenicia Intercontinental, which was built by Lebanese businessman Najib Salha, who founded La Société des Grands Hotels du Liban.

Designed by the American architect, Edward Durell Stone (an early proponent of modern architecture in the US), with Levantine influences in its high ceilings, sweeping staircases and palatial pillars, the hotel opened in December 1961.

It had 600 rooms and suites, shops, a few restaurants and a swimming pool with a bar. A second, taller tower was added to the hotel later on.

In the mid-70s it was abandoned for nearly 25 years until the late 1990s, when Mazen and Marwan Salha, members of the board of directors of La Société des Grands Hotels du Liban, decided to restore the hotel. At this point, a third tower was added to the building.

It reopened in March, 2000, following a huge restoration project (and another one when it was closed for three months for repairs after the 2005 bombing assassination of Rafik Hariri in the street out front) and saw a US$50million revamp last year that coincided with its 50-year anniversary.

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