Travelodge ‘tri-arc’ hotels around the world

Large corporations work hard to present a consistent brand to customers, and one of the ways they do this is with architecture. Back in the 1970s Travelodge did just this, building dozens of identical hotel towers all over the world.

Growing up in the Australian city of Geelong, the Mercure Hotel dominated the skyline. The design was rather unusual – three sided with a flying saucer on top.

Mercure Hotel, Geelong

Built back in the 1970s, it was originally a Travelodge hotel.

Postcard: Geelong Travelodge hotel, circa 1970s

Meanwhile an hour away at Melbourne Airport was another very similar looking hotel – a little taller and a little wider, but still three sided and clad in beige brick.

And guess what – it was also built in the 1970s as a Travelodge hotel.

Now the plot thickens – in the city of Albury on the Victoria/New South Wales border, we find yet another three sided hotel tower – this time identical to that in Geelong.

Yes, you guessed it.

Gough Whitlam opened the original Travelodge in 1971, the year before he became prime minister.

In the inner Sydney suburb of Camperdown is yet another three sided former Travelodge hotel.

Quite nice at the time.

But now down in the dumps:

The building was originally built as a Travelodge and I like the Tri-Arc design. It takes you back to the 70’s and it immediately reminded me structurally of the original Travelodge in Darwin which has been lovingly maintained and modernised. Sadly this is not the case with Rydges. First impressions on entering the lobby were not encouraging. There is nothing “stylish” or “welcoming” about it.

The former Darwin Travelodge is a little taller, but features the same three sided design.

Travelodge’s ‘Tri-Arc’ design

Travelodge called their three sided hotel design the ‘Tri-Arc’. The book ‘Professional Hotel Management’ by J M S Negi describes from of the benefits.

Many advances are taking place in the configuration of hotel buildings. The idea of tri-arc style was introduced by Travelodge International. the main advantages of this type are

  • each room has a view
  • the wedge shape of guest rooms permits each to have an unusually large bath and dressing area
  • the central core, containing elevators, linen rooms, utilities and ice cube machines, facilitates economies in construction and operation

More on the design can be found in this 1970s-era fact sheet on concrete by the Expanded Shale, Clay and Slate Institute

Travelodge “Tri-Arc” design capitalizes on economy and versatility of load-bearing lightweight masonry unit

Still another tradition has been shattered by the “Tri-Arc” design introduced by Travelodge International: whose graceful, contemporary curves and planes dispel any notion that lightweight masonry structures have to adhere to a box-like design.

A new design concept has triggered a major expansion program in the large motor hotel field. Significantly, this new concept provides important cost savings in construction but, equally important, provides a basic design which can be used in almost any kind of site orientation and thus holds design and construction costs to a minimum. Called “Tri-Arc,” the design concept derives its name in part from the floor plan created when three equally placed wings radiate outward from a central core.

It was developed by Travelodge International for building new facilities worldwide, and makes extensive and innovative use of load bearing lightweight concrete masonry walls. Because it lends itself well to fast, economical construction with good insulation, fireproofing and acoustical damping qualities, lightweight block is becoming almost a standard for walls in buildings with repetitive floor plans. The Tri-Arc design, however, represents its first use in a curved configuration, in this case the concave sides of each wing

According to Travelodge chief executive offer Roger Manfred, the Tri-Arc design was selected from among 14 designs which were thoroughly investigated as to “feasibility, cost, adhering to a variety of building codes, adaptability, aesthetic qualities and other vital statistics.” Standardization will permit numerous economies in planning, and yet modifications are relatively simple: by adding or deleting rooms at the end of the wings the overall size of the building can be adjusted to the site without impairing the architectural integrity or symmetry of the structure.

Because of its shape, the Tri-Arc building can be oriented in an infinite number of positions on a site with none of the problems encountered in dealing with rectangular buildings. A typical construction program will see Tri-Arc construction progressing in a “corkscrew” fashion: as pre- cast concrete floor slabs are being positioned on one of the three arcs, masons are completing load bearing walls on a second, while other trades are following the masons and working on the third. In one such application, a story was completed every six working days.

The Houston Travelodge exemplifies the Tri-Arc design and reflects the economy and versatility of load bearing light- weight masonry construction. In all, some 100,000 expanded shale aggregate lightweight masonry units were used in this striking nine-story structure.

Around the world

As you might expect for an American company, there are many examples of former Travelodge Tri-Arc hotels across the USA.

Atlanta, Georgia.

Denver, Colorado.

Houston, Texas.

Mt Laurel, New Jersey.

Salt Lake City, Utah.

Portland, Oregon.

And San Diego, California.

There is also a former Travelodge Tri-Arc hotel at Walt Disney World, of a slightly different design.

Outside the USA, there is a Tri-Arc hotel in Toronto, Canada.

Narita Airport, Japan.

And in Port Moresby, the capital of the Australia’s forgotten neighbour, Papua New Guinea.

Quite a diverse mix of locations!


Albury, NSW, Australia:

Camperdown, Sydney, NSW, Australia:

Geelong, Victoria, Australia:

Melbourne Airport, Victoria, Australia:

Darwin, NT, Australia:

Toronto, Canada:

San Diego, California, USA:

Salt Lake City, Utah, USA:

Houston, Texas:

Portland, Oregon, USA:

Atlanta, Georgia USA:

Denver, Colorado, USA:

Mt Laurel, New Jersey, USA:

Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA:

Narita Airport, Japan:


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2 Responses to “Travelodge ‘tri-arc’ hotels around the world”

  1. Alex Marfleet says:

    Thanks Marcus!
    This has been very useful in some background research I’m doing for a current tri-arc project. Interested in how you actually found the ones you did!

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