"Classic, but also fun" is how Princeton, N. J., architect Michael Graves describes the recently unveiled designs for the Dolphin and Swan convention hotels in Orlando, Fla., adjacent to Walt Disney World and Epcot Center. In his first foray into what the Disney Company calls "entertainment architecture. " Graves chose the swan and dolphin as traditional symbols for water (conventional Disney characters were considered, but seen as not sufficiently appealing to adults). The $375 million complex is nevertheless serious about its fun: 47-foot-high dolphin/swan statues at the corners of their respective resorts are but part of the aquatic theme, which includes a three-tiered clamshell fountain that cascades down the front of the Dolphin, and exterior cladding patterned in blue-green waves (Swan) and banana leaves (Dolphin). Graves's office worked with Alan Lapidus, Architects, of New York City, which provided design-development and contract documents for the project. The Lapidus firm (Alan Lapidus is the son of famed Miami Beach hotel architect Morris Lapidus) honed the Graves scheme to move 3,000 employees and thousands of guests with Disney's vaunted efficiency. The 760-room Swan boasts four restaurants, meeting facilities, and a 25,000-square-foot grand ballroom. Across a tree-shaded bridge, the 26-story, 1,500-room Dolphin will contain seven restaurants, and will be connected to a 165,000-square-foot convention and meeting facility by a three-story rotunda.
Sitework has already begun on 50 acres of lagoons, with construction of the Swan to be complete in 1989. The Dolphin is expected to open in 1990. Other Disney projects involving innovative architects are said to be in the works.