Recycling the Oil Rigs – Adaptive Re-Use Re-Visited

With a plethora of oil rigs to be decommissioned sooner rather than later and the damaging consequences on the environment of traditional ways of disposing of said rigs (through explosion..) a new slant is being offered by imaginative architects.

Houston-based Morris Architects took top honors for its two entries to Radical Innovation in Hospitality, an international design competition co-sponsored by the John Hardy Group and Hospitality Design magazine. Projects from around the world were submitted by hospitality brands, designers, and consulting professionals.

Morris Architects’ award winning competition entry “Oil Rig Resort, Spa, and Aquatic Adventure”

Morris Architects captured the competition’s $10,000 Grand Prize for design of the Oil Rig Resort, Spa, and Aquatic Adventure. The concept refits one of the Gulf Coast’s 4,000 oil rigs into an exclusive resort, creating an eco-luxe oceanic experience.

Rig Resort close up

According to Morris Architects Director of Design Douglas Oliver, “In a twist on the symbol of oil dependence, the rig is transformed from obsolete industrial infrastructure into a vibrant component of the biosphere’s ecosystem and a destination for discerning travelers.”


Flexible Rig Resort units

“As the adaptive reuse of an abandoned oilrig,” added John Hardy, president and CEO of the John Hardy Group, “the Rig Resort offers a potentially commercially viable solution to an environmental hazard by providing alternative adventure travel opportunities based on a natural setting, simultaneously creating new jobs previously non-existent in the area.”


Interior of the Rig Resort units

In addition to attracting the adventurer and luxury traveler, this destination resort will also draw conferences, business retreats, and can serve as a cruise ship’s main port of call en route to other locations in Mexico and the Caribbean. Miles from shore, the Rig Hotel will function autonomously through the use of alternative energy. Upon entering the “reef lobby,” guests enjoy spectacular views of the Gulf — including vantages through the lobby’s glass floor. Spaces are organized around a core of water that serves as ballast while also providing a deep-water venue for evening shows similar to Cirque du Soleil’s Las Vegas ‘O’.


Reef Lobby of the Rig Resort features spectacular views.

The Morris Architects entry titled Extreme Birding was named one of the contest’s finalists and received an Honorable Mention. Bird-watching, also known as birding, presents tremendous untapped potential for the hospitality industry. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, bird-watching is a hobby for over 47.8 million Americans, and that number is growing. Explaining the concept, Oliver stated, “There is a strong connection between bird-watching and travel. Up until now, hospitality offerings for birders tended to be ad-hoc. This design proposes to integrate luxury hospitality into the birding experience, creating a methodology that can be adapted for sites around the globe.”


Adding luxury hospitality to the birdwatching experience.

In receiving both the Grand Prize and an Honorable Mention, Morris Architects is the first firm to have been nominated for two of the four finalist positions in a single year. Said Michelle Finn, vice president of Hospitality Design Group, publisher of Hospitality Designmagazine, “Innovation deserves a platform. This award offers a glimpse of what is truly cutting-edge thinking.”

The Rig Resort also received the SARA National Design Award of Excellence, the highest design honor awarded by the Society for American Registered Architects.


Eco-travel combines environmental stewardship with luxury hospitality.

According to Chris Hudson, Morris Architects President and CEO: “These entries exemplify the firm’s commitment to ADVANCEDESIGN, expanding the boundaries of what design and architecture can do for our clients and our communities.”


Birdwatching venue close up

Under the leadership of Design Director Douglas Oliver, the team responsible for the Morris Architects hospitality concepts included Yoonah Chang, Dallas Felder, Sandra Guerrero, Melanie Herz, Paul Kweton, Shawn Lutz, and John McWilliams.

Credits: Morris Architects – Bustler – Serengreenity


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