Saturday, September 4, 2010

Look at this ceiling

As promised, Monday I will post on the Pan American Building by Paul Cret. As a teaser, check out the entry way ceiling - this is all plaster, detailed to look like stone, which somehow makes it so much more interesting to me. Also included is a grand ballroom, the climax of the Beaux-arts diagram, but more on that later -for now, enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 2, 2010

An elegant hotel

Earlier this week I finally got a chance to visit the newly renovated Jefferson hotel here in DC which has been open for a year and getting RAVE reviews (read Jennifer Sergent's great post with beautiful pictures at DC by Design blog).
The architectural firm ForrestPerkins was the architect for the extensive interior and exterior renovations. Of course I only had my Droid incredible, whose camera continues to disappoint me, but the fuzzy pictures still show how truly elegant this hotel is!
The restaurant, seen above, was really just incredibly chic, a word I don't tend to use but nothing else describes it! I hear they have an amazing brunch so I might have to check it out, especially since it's just 2 blocks from my apartment!The hotel in general has a very French flavor, which may hark to the time Thomas Jefferson spent in that country or maybe it just fit the space.
The entry has beautiful black and white marble floors, white woodwork and dramatic deep colored walls which show off their extensive DC history collection perfectly.In the rear of the first floor are a series of business spaces with beautiful wood paneling and really stylish furniture - I could work here, couldn't you, or at least curl up with a good book?It definitely has a distinct quietly residential feeling; just what you want in a luxury hotel.The lighting is particularly glamorous, all by Niermannweeks - they really were the jewels in the crown!
I encourage you to visit to check out the beautiful space: the bar even features live piano music (not to mention excellent drinks!).

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

A very colorful space

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of touring the Organization of American States original headquarters with the ICA. Now, I've had a love affair with this building since early college when I had a (45 page!) term paper I wrote on the building, designed by Paul Cret and finished in 1910; so you can imagine how excited I was to actually take a tour (I had never been inside). Rather than jump in with the main building, however, I'll start small with an auxiliary building I had never noticed behind the main structure that started life as the house for the director of the organization.
Located behind the main building at 18th and Virginia Avenues, NW, it's hard to imagine anyone living here in noisy tourist central (other than at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue across the street of course!). Remember though, when it was built, the national mall and the monuments mostly did not exist. Instead, a canal, warehouses, random farmhouses and marshland were its' neighbors. It really was the edge of town.
What struck me first about the house were the small porportions. Look at the guard in the front doorway -that is SHORT! This is a private space. Immediately inside is the staircase: graceful but purely residential. The house was turned into an art museum for the organization a number of years ago. The exterior loggia on the rear of the house, which faces the Pan American building creating a courtyard, was enclosed to provide security and also extra display and entertaining space.
Imagine this space being open to the lovely courtyard and pool; This is a LOVELY room. Much like the adjacent Pan American building, Cret and his staff designed all of the tile work and ornament found throughout. In Beaux arts design, the most detail is found in the most important space and the spaces leading up to it become more ornate as you progress. Therefore, the exterior of the house remains very plain out of heirarchy to the main building.However, within the house itself, this exterior room was treated as a special space: a destination. It makes sense, who wouldn't want to spend time here; breakfast, lunch and dinner!
I love the contrast between the natural terracotta and the turquoise glazing. All of the figures in the decoration reflect the union of North and South American design.
I love the grillwork on the doors back into the house. These details are where Beaux Arts style thrives in my opinion.
The tilework doesn't stop at the loggia, the guardrail down to the pool off the rear terrace also features some amazing detail.
Even the bronze benches designed for the space reflect the Mayan motif's found throughout. Everything is part of an integrated design, no detail was forgotten.I will be showing more of my pictures from the main building next week, stay tuned; it will blow your socks off!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sightseeing at home

One of the great parts of having a houseguest is you see parts of your own home city that you otherwise rarely visit. This weekend I played tour guide to a friend and explored the best of what DC has to offer!
Brunch at POV overlooking the White House, formerly the Washington Hotel and a trip to the Newseum and the National Mall filled the day Sunday.
The Newseum has THE view of the Capitol building, which you can see above. However from the inside of the museum, with the Canadian Embassy in the foreground, the view is a bit......odd?
A bit of a contrast, the US Capitol building behind the Canadian flag: I thought it was funny!
Saturday was spent exploring Hillwood with the ever gracious Steven as guide (thanks again!). It was the perfect day for a walk around the gardens which always have something to surprise and delight, no matter the season. I have always loved the fountain in the parterre but never thought much of the pattern which runs along the base. Even on a (rare) cloudy day in DC, the water would sparkle as it hit the points of the pattern; ingenius detailing.
I didn't bring my camera with me, as evidenced by these pictures. I am a bit disappointed with the camera on the Droid Incredible (phone); The pictures are ok, but tend towards the blurry side. I have to remember to get out and explore the city even when I don't have the excuse of a guest in town. Hope you had a great weekend as well!