President and Principal Scott Lee Shares Insight on Hospitality, Residential and Mixed-Use Design Trends for the Year Ahead.

San Francisco-based SB Architects, one of the country’s leading hospitality and mixed-use design firms, continues to be on the forefront of trends in its areas of expertise, which increasingly includes large-scale multi-family and estate home projects.

Following the success of 2017 with several milestone projects completed, SB Architects President and Principal Scott Lee is looking ahead at what’s to come.

Along with a the team of experts, Lee has identified the below trends through the firm’s direct application and work within the mixed-use realm, luxury hospitality, custom and resort residential and the wine country.

Luxury Hospitality

Hyper-personalized, bespoke, immersive experiences — The next generation of hospitality consists of providing exclusive experiential journeys to bond and grow with clientele. SB values the club-like spaces at their hospitality projects, as they appeal to various lifestyle categories and behaviors, allowing people to come together based on brand affiliation. Personalized connectivity before, during and after the experience drives loyalty to engage the traveler throughout the entire journey and throughout the entire year.

Learning is the new luxury — Experiential travel is not a new trend. In 2018, the concept will continue to evolve, as travelers are looking to take experiences and newfound knowledge home with them. The execution of immersive travel has shifted into educational, allowing guests to become a part of the local culture and community, allowing them to learn a new sport, skill or craft.

 The Lodges at Calistoga Ranch, an Auberge Resort prove that resort residential is on the rise. Photo courtesy of Tim Street Porter.

“Travelers and homeowners are increasingly seeking out experiences that fulfill a higher need — something that emotionally connects a person to place. What we are seeing is a demand for authenticity across our core verticals as it relates to the local community. This in turn is impacting the way we design our projects across the board.” — SB Architects President and Principal Scott Lee.

Wine Country

Relax and un-wine — Modern day wineries are shifting from the traditional wine country architecture and layout. These days architects are designing lounge and workshop spaces, which allow guests to be engaged and entertained in an interactive platform with one another and the winery staff. The design emphasizes the grape to glass experience, and less on the tasting room. SB’s wine practice is dedicated to producing spaces where site sensitivity, structure and nuance are favored above all else.

Come for the wine, stay for the night — Modernized, sophisticated hospitality offerings in wine country have been few and far between, leading many visitors to travel for day trips from surrounding Bay Area cities. However, just within the last year, architects and designers have started to evolve the lodging offerings to reveal contemporary vino-cultured sanctuaries.


Resort residential is on the rise — The branded real estate category has seen tremendous growth in the past three years. These luxury developments truly blur the lines between resort and residential living, tying in the natural surroundings to create an authentic experience for buyers. Members and guests have started to value authenticity, a sense of belonging and community of a place over singular experience, and for this reason, branded residences have begun to flourish.

Green is (still) the way to go — Sustainability continues to be top-of-mind for homeowners, and with custom homes, designers are going above and beyond to minimize owners’ carbon footprint without sacrificing beauty.

Bringing the outdoors in — The rising demand for transitional indoor/outdoor space in custom homes is steadily increasing, and nature is having a serious moment in design. Reclaimed wood panel installations, exposed concrete flooring, biophilic architectural elements, and the incorporation of natural flora patterns in fabrics and artwork are all becoming more prominent.

SB’s work with Ascaya in Henderson, Nevada is a reflection of the blurred lines between inside and out, with expanses of glass which disappear to create numerous arrangements of the flexible space. Photo Credit Ciro Coelho Photography.

Lee creates seamless transition between indoor/outdoor living at The Hillside House residence in Mill Valley, California. Photo courtesy of SB Architects


Integrated urban spaces  The secret to successful mixed-use communities lies in the connectivity and interrelationship between the ground floor retail, the residents who call it home, the office workers who frequent it daily and the hotel guests whose experience is enhanced. It is purely design that choreographs this unique experience.

Finding art in architecture  The lines continue to blur between art and architecture. Many new mixed-use developments are getting creative with art integration, such as SB’s work with the Miami Design District, in which SB has collaborated with six leading architects to design various buildings and their striking facades. SB created the architectural skeleton for the blocks, addressing building structure, overall identity and the movement of people through the space. Within this framework, each store has been treated as a distinct building, with individual retailer given the opportunity to create the entire façade — 45 feet from ground to sky.