Was the move to the hotel in season two for the change of location or to get some fresh design?
A little bit of both. The producers really wanted to give Angel a dynamic season finality. An explosion is a dynamic season finality and they thought "Well what better way to let us out of one place and take us to a new place than blow up his residence."
A little side note is that everybody, all the directors from David Greenwalt on down, were getting very tired of shooting in a small cramped office space and a dark underground lair where Angel lived. Anything very dynamic on screen would have caused a lot of problems production-wise, so that was a big consideration.
Once they blew it up, they said to me "We’ve got to create a new space that is tremendous to look at but also is very film-friendly. We want the crew to be able to move in and out freely, we want to be able to move the cameras around at will, and we want to be able to make a lot of use of this new space since we’re spending a lot of money on it". All those things went into the decision on the new space.
They were unsure what they wanted to do, they were kicking around the idea of maybe putting in an old mansion, but we thought "Well, that’s kind of like Batman". Then we thought about putting it in some abandoned what have you, when Joss Whedon said "I want to put Angel in an abandoned hotel, what do you think of that?"
I thought "That sounds great to me". I wanted to have something as a jumping off point as a frame so we all understood where we were coming from, so I said "Are you thinking of something along maybe as grand as The Shining?", that big spooky hotel in the Stanley Kubrick film. Joss said "No I’m thinking something a little more Los Angeles based, how about something like Barton Fink, the Coen Brother’s movie".
From that point on we all had a frame of reference that we could work with. Once we got the go-ahead with our design we took a few weeks to build a scale model of what we could achieve with the budget, and from there we took about 10 weeks for us to build it from start to finish until we started shooting in it the very first episode of the second season.