Friday, June 22, 2018

A visit to the Pantheon in Paris

Of all of my trips to Paris I had never made it into the Latin Quarter to the Pantheon. Sure, I had admired the neo-classical dome marking the cities' skyline from a distance but never made the trek up the Sainte Genevieve hill to visit until just recently.
 Up close the stunning stone decoration comes into sharp focus.
The huge scale of the interior needs other visitors to fully appreciate.  The proportions are so grand that it's hard to grasp the true scale otherwise.
The building has a fascinating history. Originally built as a church to Saint Genevieve by Louis XV in thanks for surviving an illness, construction began in 1758. The church was designed by architect Jacques-Germain Soufflot who was an early adoptor of the neo-classical style and this was to become his most famous commission.
The history becomes more interesting as the structure was de-consecrated by revolutionists in 1791 and turned into a mausoleum for Great Frenchmen and stripped of all ecclesiastical objects and art.
Later under different governments (France has a rocky history afterall) the Pantheon was to return to use as a church twice until finally becoming a meeting house for French intellectuals with graves in the basement crypt for the most important French intellectuals and scientists.
In 1851 the church was renowned as a hub of science when physicist Leon Foucault demonstrated the rotation of earth with a large pendulum hung from the central dome. This was recently reinstated with a copy seen below as the original is in a nearby museum.
The pantheon may be a temple to intellectuals and science but I was drawn to the great art found within.
 Great sculptures and vast paintings mark moments in French history.
 I particularly liked this painting of Joan of Arc.
 Areas still harken back to the time of when it was used as a church.
 I really admired the jacket of revolutionary war hero Lazare Hoche.
Notice the extra height the doors have visually with the fixed transoms over the operable door (look very carefully for where the operable door ends).  Very elegant overdoors too which also add to the verticality of the space.
 My favorite item in the Pantheon however has to be the original architectural model!
Built of stone and plaster the model has section cuts painted red which make them clear.  This particularly helps to show the construction of the dome and vaults.
While the appearance of the building is neo-classical,  structurally it utilizes many Gothic methods of construction like cleverly hidden flying buttresses.
 The crypt where many famous French citizens are buried is included in the model.
 While the model is rather rough it still includes details such as this staircase on an upper level.
The large tower shown on the left above no longer survives but you can see the dome of the room in which this model sits underneath.
The main entrance to the crypt is outdoors, seen above, but I really loved the elegant smaller round stairs below enclosed within the building.
 The crypt is enormous with room for centuries of burials.
The first chambers house only a few people such as Rousseau, Voltaire, and the architect of the Pantheon Soufflot.
 Commemorative plaques are found throughout the building.
 Below is the wood coffin of Rousseau in the form of a Greek temple.
 As always, click on the images to view them larger and take in the details.
 Voltaire is marked by this life sized statue.
 Soufflots Greek formed sarcophagus below.
 How cool is this space (literally and figuratively).
 Myriad burial chambers line the entire basement.
 I loved these pieces of sculpture which had fallen off the pediment artfully displayed in the crypt.
 A long history of the building was also in one of the crypt's chambers.
I'm always amazed by nature showing up in the most unexpected spots -here a fern growing under one of the massive stone columns lining the portico.
I'm not sure why I waited through so many years of Parisian getaways to visit the Pantheon. I highly recommend you pay a visit and if you have time, pay the extra 3 euro to visit the roof for a lovely view of the city.

Monday, April 2, 2018

Modern Delta lighting and Poliform cabinet showroom visit

Recently a few of us from my office visited an interesting new concept of a showroom here in Georgetown: Sagartstudio.
The interesting thing about the showroom is that it's actually a townhouse that has been expertly renovated as if it's a real house, utilizing many interesting products. No one lives here but you can bring your clients to see different items 'in use'.
They pride themselves that it shows how even an older traditional Washington rowhouse can incorporate modern design and the latest conveniences.
The house is branded as a Poliform showroom but all of the lighting is from my new favorite lighting company, Delta Lighting, along with other European brands furnishing the rest of the house.
 As I was saying the house was beautiful renovated, even to this architect's eye; "No expense was spared".  The nice thing is that one can bring a client to a high-level project to see items in situ and not a bland showroom:  Very little imagination is needed here!
 Everyone wants a bathtub in the master bedroom, right? Ok maybe not, but it makes for a nice picture.
The owner was telling us the house was completely gutted and basically rebuilt.  In general I cannot stand recessed lighting (loathe it actually) but these small modern fixtures disappear nicely in a way that works in both modern and traditional environments.
 Love this cute little reading sconce.
Generally nicer recessed architectural fixtures like these are many times more the cost than the average recessed can from home depot but the Delta lighting is actually pretty reasonable and definitely affordable.
 These small recessed spots are great.
 Another great product is this recessed track system into which many types of fixtures can fit.
I love the adjustable lights which pull down from the track (or recess) so that you can aim them at artwork.
These recessed floor lights work well in a bathroom or anywhere you need a little extra night-lighting; hallways perhaps?
Also featured are trufig recessed electrical outlets which are a nice minimal approach. Here Sagartstudio used them in black as a contrast to the white walls.  Generally I have spec'd them in the wall color so they disappear but this is a nice look too.
I love these kitchens that sort of fold away when not in use which are great for city apartments; looking like a built-in wardrobe system or paneled wall when not in use.
Another interesting product were these adjustable recessed lights that were small enough to fit into the stair carriage.
 These lit the exposed brick wall nicely; stair lighting is always tricky!
 Another interesting sconce that doubles as an art piece are these flat light fixtures which appear to be 3-d,  rather like Sol LeWitt.
And who says plumbing fixtures can't be fun colors? I forget the Italian company who makes these but rather fun for a child's bath.
Believe it or not this is not a sponsored post (other than the glass  or two of champagne I enjoyed...ok 3) but I wanted to share some fun new products. If you're in the DC area I highly recommend a visit to the Sargartstudio to see these products for yourself -tell them ArchitectDesignblog sent you!