Thursday, May 8, 2014

The Architecture of Diplomacy: The British Ambassador's Residence in Washington

While I prepare a series of lengthier posts I wanted to share with you an astonishing new book that has recently been released, The Architecture of Diplomacy: The British Ambassador's Residence in Washington.
I was fortunate enough to receive an invitation to a media preview of the book as well as a tour of the residence by the authors as well as the Ambassador, Sir Peter Westmacott, and his wife Susie.  I pass this famous structure by one of my favorite architects, Edwin Lutyens, weekly but had never been behind the iron gates. Needless to say it was a thrill!
I wanted to wet your appetite with these gorgeous photographs from the book by photographer Eric Sander before sharing with you my own detail snapshots and information about this extraordinary house in later posts.
The main stair-hall has a very 'on trend' gallery of stunning prints from the UK Government Art Collection. Far from a new decorating device however, these gallery walls are a contemporary interpretation of the print rooms interiors that were popular in British country houses from as early as the 1750s.
So much to take in; the railing, the stone stair, gallery wall. The 118 framed prints feature portraits, country houses, botanical specimens, animals, views of London, cathedrals, churches, castles, as well as images relating to the embassy itself.
Built as an embassy in 1930 (unlike most current embassies in this city) this is naturally the perfect party house. The main floor is 1/2 circulation space with the other public areas consisting of a grand ballroom, seen above, a drawing room and a dining room.
 Every room is picture perfect, even the private study of the ambassador above.
 The last public room is of course the garden. I look forward to sharing much about this as well.
My favorite room, and probably the most stunning stair I have ever seen, was the private stair up to the 2nd floor where the ambassador's apartment and guest rooms are housed.
The book contains many more inspirational images that won't disappoint: definitely add this tome to your design library! Stay tuned for more details of the British Embassy.
All photos courtesy of Eric Sanders from The Architecture of Diplomacy.


John J. Tackett said...

Fantastic! Surely the most wonderful of all the ambassador residences in DC. And the only Edwin Lutyens building in North America.
_ The Devoted Classicist

Blue said...

Oh, yes! I'm lying in bed requesting the Celt stop his reading and order this book. Apparently I'm imperious after three bourbons. Perhaps, but I want this book!

columnist said...

I had no idea it was so palatial, and it is an unusual side of Lutyens's architecture I had not seen. The display of the prints is very fresh, (compared to say oil portraits which one might expect to see there instead), and personally I wholly approve of the complete symmetry). I shall go and have three Bourbons and get imperious, a la Blue. (Oh, no, wait it's 11 am.)

Stephilius said...

Ohhh.... Wonderful. Can't wait for your posts. : )

Karena said...

You have intrigued me Stefan! That stairway, the patterned floor of the garden, 118 framed prints! I would love to peruse this book!

The Arts by Karena

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Thanks for the link to the earlier Lutyens posting, Stefan. I see that elegant stair railings were a regular Lutyens touch, and what an impact just that one detail can make!

home before dark said...

Lucky YOU! Looking forward to your reports.

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

Happy Friday!
Indeed every room is picture perfect, grandeur and grace. How exciting that you toured this magnificent masterpiece of symmetry. The stairs are sheer art, oh how I love the black & white garden room checkerboard floor with the perfectly manicured topiaries. Gotta check out this book as I wait for you to post further.

My Notting Hill said...

OMG - this is fabulous!! Looking forward to more posts on it.