Monday, March 30, 2015

Details Matter

If you follow me on Instagram (@architectdesignblog) this weekend you probably saw a number of pictures I posted of a grand apartment building here in Washington DC in the historic Kalorama neighborhood.
Buildings such as these are listed in the Washington real estate bible, Best Addresses, by the local authority on such matters, James Goode.  I live in a 'best address' building myself, although not as grand as this, and it really was one of my apartment's selling features. It's always the first statement of any real estate description of any apartment in these buildings in Washington. I would recommend the book to others who don't live in DC as a great compilation of grand apartment buildings from 1900 till the 1970s, full of floorplans and historic photos.
The details matter here and separate this building from common apartments. Symmetry and aligned spaces are key, but delicate plasterwork, marble mosaic floors, and charming original stairwell doors and exit signs are all details that speak of care and quality.
Notice the well thought placement of modern HVAC grilles discretely placed above the exit door. I think also important to notice are the signs that this building is a home;  minimal quality non-cluttery furniture and artwork grace the spacious halls.  Compare this to atrocious new-construction apartments we see going up all over this city and also cities around the country as we experience this (wonderful) return to urbanism. Why do people prefer new construction to this again?


debra @ 5th and state said...

i concur stefan, why is modern architecture appealing to the masses, cost no doubt but thoroughly soulless.

let's hope these are protected


Karena said...

Stefan living in a historical space is so elegant. You've shown the exterior of your building before, which is very beautifully appointed!

The Arts by Karena

Windlost said...

Oh that's so interesting, to have listed buidings like that. How lovely! Rarely is anything new ever constructed with the same grace and integrity or attention to detail. All that costs money, which is why there are very rich developers. They are putting it in their pockets instead. ;)
In my city, there is no choice but to live "new". The supply of "old" is very minute and well over a million for anything that isn't a dump, and then it still needs work. Ugh. Depressing. How I'd love to live in an older city again...!
xo Terri

Chronica Domus said...

Why do people prefer new construction you ask? Not I! As you've perfectly demonstrated with your photographs, little details add up to make a beautiful big picture. New construction differs in that those details are removed, making for a sterile final result.

I was amazed to discover that inside the few built-in closets we have in our house, circa 1925, the builders chose to finish off the door surrounds with the same trim that graces the outside of the closet and every other doorway in the house. Who did they expect would actually see their beautiful carpentry where it hides from the rest of the world? I'm so glad they did because I for one appreciate it. As you say, details matter.

ArchitectDesign™ said...

CD -yes -not us of course! However I feel among my 'non-design' friends -they prefer new construction. DC has 100s of new buildings with modern 'loft-like' apartments. All the same, all with horrible detailing, all EXPENSIVE -and in HIGH DEMAND. Meanwhile things languish (comparatively) in older buildings.

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

Oh how I wish that new construction had the details that make a space simple but elegant. In my house hunt I am seeing lots of new houses that don't even have molding around the windows! I mean, how hard is that?

Ann said...

I have a dear friend who moved to DC. He's also from NY and was describing different parts of DC as their NYC counterparts, translating for me if you will. Ha! I will have to send him this book because while I'm unfamiliar with most of DC, even I am envious of his new address!

columnist said...

These "grande dame" design details are such a delight. Even though there is an aged element, it's the aging of an elegance that is difficult to replicate. We too live in an older building, (a mere child compared to this), but it has the elements that define it from the current newer buildings, not least larger spaces in public areas, such as lobbies and lift corridors.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

Dear Stefan,

Like you, I'm a stickler for details. Though the average eye may not focus on them, their difference in the scheme of things is still felt. I think the beauty of these entrance spaces, especially when they're well done, is that they make a perfect segue into one's private world, a little interlude where the day's decompression can begin.

Row homes and Cobblestones said...

I am so ordering the book - plus it's prime shipping! I agree why would anyone not appreciate the grandeur and personalities of old over new?