When it opened in 1961, this building was an example of an exciting and innovative urban trend: the motor hotel. Built on restricted sites along congested downtown streets, older hotels could not keep pace with suburban motels in an age when travelers increasingly arrived by automobile rather than by railroad. Racially integrated from its opening, the Radisson Hotel also helped to close a tarnished chapter of the city's past.
The Radisson was originally known as the Golden Triangle Hotel because of its location on a wedge-shaped plot, formerly the site of one of the city's worst slums. The multi-use structure combines guest rooms, meeting facilities, offices, shops, and restaurants. As designed by Anthony F. Musolino, a long driveway, flanked by two curving ramps, leads to the motor entrance; there was once a circular fountain at its center. Glass curtain walls sheathe the thirteen-story V-shaped tower. Behind the tower, two motel-like wings stretch to the rear of the site with a pool at their center and parking spaces around their perimeter. In contrast to the relatively staid exterior, the hotel's interiors were the work of Morris Lapidus, the flamboyant designer of the Fontainebleau (1952) and Eden Roc (1954) hotels in Miami Beach. The guest rooms and the public areas projected an aura of sophistication and modernity that must have made Norfolk's other hotels look shabby and out of date. The Nations International Restaurant served cuisine from around the world. Each night of the week featured a menu from a different nation, and the staff's costumes and the room's accessories were changed accordingly. The Satellite Coffee House was designed around a futuristic theme. Subsequent renovations have unfortunately removed Lapidus's touches, save for the sweeping staircase in the trapezoidal lobby. Although across the street from the Scope Cultural and Convention Center, the Golden Triangle was too far removed from the heart of downtown to be profitable; consequently, it has undergone several changes of name and management. After a brush with demolition in early 1997, the hotel was acquired by new owners and renovated.
- Richard Guy Wilson et al.
Buildings of Virginia, Richard Guy Wilson and contributors. New York: Oxford University Press, 2002, pp. 421–422.
SAH Archipedia, eds. Gabrielle Esperdy and Karen Kingsley, Charlottesville: UVaP, 2012. Online. http://sah-archipedia.org/buildings/VA-01-NK47. Accessed 2014-03-09.