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The new seven-story Mission Valley hotel will offer 150 guestrooms and a 5,300 square-foot conference and ballroom space 

Mission Valley, Calif. – AO, a leading full-service architecture firm with design expertise spanning the full commercial real estate spectrum, and R.D. Olson Construction, an award-winning general contracting firm in California, have announced the beginning of construction on the Element Hotel by Marriott in San Diego County. The seven-story, 150-key, hotel tower for client Driftwood Capital will be situated next to the existing full-service Marriott Hotel Mission Valley and is designed to share the pool amenity deck and restaurants with that facility, while maintaining its own entrance, lobby, lounge and amenities. Completion is expected in winter of 2026. 

Both AO and R.D. Olson Construction have extensive experience in hospitality projects, and specifically have worked on Marriott hotels in the past. This is the first Element Hotel partnership for the two firms, and the first to be built in San Diego County for Marriot. The 98,000 square-foot hotel will offer views of the river corridor and Mission Valley from many of its tower rooms. A destination for tourist and business travelers, it will be a brief eight miles from attractions at Mission Bay, dining and shopping in downtown San Diego, and easily accessible from Hwy 8. Guests will enjoy amenities such as a 5,300 square-foot conference and ball room space, fitness center, meeting rooms, spacious lobby and lounge, in addition to access to the main pool and exterior lounge areas. 

Embracing a modern, elegant design, the new hotel’s warm, neutral tones reflect the natural beauty of the Southern California location. The ground up construction is on the former tennis courts of the Marriott Hotel, southwest of the main building, so great care is being taken to maintain the work site separate from the existing property. The base of the structure will be two stories of concrete construction with five stories of wood frame above, an efficient and cost-effective building method. Once completed, the project will comply with Title 24 energy and water use criteria, which is approximate to LEED’s silver level. 

“It’s important for us at AO to treat each project individually. We are designing this new Element Hotel to be unique from the nearby Marriott Mission Valley, with its distinguishing arrival area and placemaking, while still tasked with marrying the two properties seamlessly,” said Bruce Greenfield, AO Partner. “We trust our partners at R.D. Olson Construction to remain true to Marriott’s standards and bring to life Element’s specific look.” 

Construction and design challenges exist in building the new hotel, resulting in strict measures needed due to the project’s proximity to the San Diego MTS trolley Green Rail line. Subsequently, a 15-foot retaining wall is necessary to increase the grade for the concrete building pad. With that, AO and R.D. Olson Construction have extensive experience in working with local city and transit authorities to ensure all requirements are met. The firms specialize in negotiating inspections, variances, and approvals.  

“R.D. Olson’s partnership with Marriott goes back many years, and we are excited to be working on this new project for the Element brand in San Diego,” said Bill Wilhelm, President of R.D. Olson Construction. “Our wealth of knowledge in hospitality, in particular hotels, allows us to focus on the details that really matter to an operating hotel and handover a high-quality product that functions the way a hotel property should. Similarly, it’s always great collaborating with AO, as we have done in the past. They are one of the best architecture firms in the state and have a keen sense for designing hospitality projects.” 

Partners on the project include structural engineer, Ficcadenti Waggoner and Castle; civil engineer, Kimley-Horn; MEP Engineer, RTM Engineering; and interior design by Linda Snyder Associates. 

About AO   

AO is a relationship-focused, design-driven architectural, interior, and planning services firm helping clients create places where people and businesses flourish. In its 50th year, the firm boasts wide-ranging expertise across multifamily, retail, hospitality, mixed-use, science and technology, data centers, restaurant, healthcare, office, industrial, parking, landscape, interiors, and global design, modular, transit-oriented development, and public utilities. AO is known for its ardent collaboration with developers and owners and deep expertise across various building types. AO operates from studios in Orange, San Diego, Oakland, and Sunnyvale, CA, New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Orlando, FL, where it serves clients across the Americas, Asia, and beyond. Visit aoarchitects.com to learn more. 

About R.D. Olson Construction   

Founded by Bob Olson in 1979 and led by President Bill Wilhelm, R.D. Olson Construction commemorates 45 years of building and is one of the top 40 general contracting firms in California. R.D. Olson Construction is a premier builder of hotel and multi-unit properties for several national hoteliers and developers, including Marriott, Hilton, Hyatt, Ritz Carlton, MBK Living, Related Properties and Meta Housing, and has a robust portfolio of renovation projects including Atria Senior Housing, Chapman University’s Reeves Hall, the conversion of the historic Bank of Italy Building into the Nomad Hotel and more. The firm also has a rich history as a builder of office, retail, restaurant, education, senior living and recreational projects. Learn more at www.rdolson.com.