The connoisseur: Mark Kelly
Architecture maestro Mark Kelly is the leading man behind some of the world’s most striking hotels, including Pan Pacific Hotels Group’s London venture – One Bishopsgate Plaza. The Partner at PLP Architecture talks to High Life about his dream cities, how to switch off on holiday and why Cleveland is so underrated…
I like to destress on holiday by going for an early morning cycle ride. We have a hillside shack in Piedmont, Italy, and there’s nothing better than heading out for a two- or three-hour bike ride before finding a café and grabbing a coffee for the way back (it also gives my wife a chance to sleep in!).
My favourite city to appreciate architecture in is London. It’s full of different styles and juxtapositions – I find there’s always something new to be learned from walking through the city. London is full of iconic buildings and, with so many exciting new developments popping up, I think it’s a very inspiring place to be – especially for young architects looking to study here.
If I could live in any city, it would be Malibu in Los Angeles, California. While I was studying at architecture school in Berlin, my wife and I went on holiday there. As soon as we arrived, we said, “Wouldn’t it be amazing to live here one day?” We loved the thought of living somewhere with such a diverse lifestyle in one location – where you could go swimming in the morning and skiing in the afternoon.
To switch off on holiday I like to play the piano. Unfortunately, it’s not very portable! But it’s one of the reasons why we ended up buying our house in Italy because I can store one there and play it for hours.
The first thing I do after unpacking is go for a swim. After a long flight, there’s something quite rejuvenating and calming about being in the water.
I had my most memorable meal at the Bauer Hotel in Venice at my friend’s wedding. I’ve been lucky to have made some fantastic friendships, thanks to the many holidays I’ve had in Italy. It was a small and intimate wedding with no more than 20 very close friends and family, and we ate in the beautiful private dining room. We had the most amazing risotto and some incredible white wine from northeast Italy, which I’ll never forget.
The thing I miss the most when I go on holiday is my horse, Cluedo. I love riding and I try to go most weekends. When I’m going away and travelling for more than a week, it’s what I miss the most. In fact, I’m renowned for bringing back a new riding helmet whenever I’m abroad!
A great hotel should have a great swimming pool. For me, the pool becomes quite an attraction associated with a hotel. For my latest project with Pan Pacific London at One Bishopsgate Plaza, I made sure I incorporated the pool into the design. It’s located on the fourth floor within the 43-storey tower and overlooks the new public square. I love the idea of being able to go for a dip and look out on the hustle and bustle of urban London below you.
The destination I can’t wait to go back to is Bazaruto Archipelago in Mozambique for its snorkelling, crystal-clear water and amazing wildlife. It would be fantastic to go back and experience paradise again.
This most inspiring place I’ve visited is Istanbul. It’s the scale of the city, the fascinating history associated with and its incredible street life – I loved exploring the colourful markets. You could buy anything you ever wanted there! I get inspired by places that have a strong cultural mix.
The most underrated destination is Cleveland, Ohio. I’d never been to that part of America before until I had the opportunity to spend some time there for a project I’m currently working on with the Cleveland Clinic in London. At the turn of the 20th century, it was a very wealthy city with a lot of investment in public spaces and buildings, so it was amazing to see the mix of neoclassical and modernist buildings dotted around it. From an architectural point of view, it’s a bit of a gem that not many people appreciate or know about. I would recommend going for a run around the lake in Wade Park and visiting the Cleveland Museum of Natural History and Cleveland Museum of Art.
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