Posts tagged with "midcentury modernism":

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This Napa Valley winery is a midcentury modernist desert dream

The recently completed Ashes & Diamonds Winery by Bestor Architecture aims to bring a bit of Southern California’s desert-postcard fantasy to Napa Valley wine country. The 19,840-square-foot cut-and-paste homage to midcentury modernism is situated on a 30-acre site and features a collection of austere production facilities flanked by a swanky tasting room and public courtyard. The main production facility rises two stories and is marked by Albert Frey–inspired porthole windows on three sides. The tasting room is located next door in a low wood-frame-and-stucco building wrapped by large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass. The compressed, insulated box is situated directly underneath a prefabricated 3,585-square-foot steel canopy structure reminiscent of the folded plane architecture of Donald Wesley. The lounge spaces open out onto a shared courtyard within the L-shape configuration of structures, revealing short, spiky cacti and a grassy knoll framed by a meandering concrete path. Ashes & Diamonds Winery 4130 Howard Lane Napa, California Architect: Bestor Architecture Tel: 707-666-4777
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Historic Kurt Meyer-designed bank to be demolished in favor of Gehry’s 8150 Sunset

A California judge has ruled in favor of Gehry Partners’s proposed 8150 Sunset development in Los Angeles, agreeing with the architects and developers Townscape Partners that preserving the historic Lytton Savings bank would make the project “infeasible." The decision comes nearly a year after a separate judge ruled against the project, arguing that the Googie-style, Kurt Meyer-designed bank was worth preserving. Gehry’s controversial project has faced a litany of complaints from the community since it was first announced in 2015, both from NIMBY-driven and preservation-focused groups. Initially, the project was tarred for being too tall, too dense, and for blocking views of the city from the adjacent Hollywood Hills. Next, preservation groups such as the Los Angeles Conservancy and Friends of Lytton Savings came out against the project for its proposed demolition of the historic bank. Following this initial dust-up, the 1960s-era Googie-style structure was swiftly landmarked, cited for its clean modernist aesthetic and its folded plate concrete roof. After last year’s ruling—precipitated by a suit from the L.A. Conservancy—it was hoped the bank could be saved and incorporated into the 229-unit mixed-use development. That opportunity has now disappeared. The Gehry project, as currently designed, consists of a cluster of five wobbly towers of various heights organized around a series of public outdoor spaces and ground floor retail. The development’s tallest tower is expected to rise up to 15 stories high. Hopes that 8150 Sunset would move toward final approval were dashed with the most recent ruling, however, which all but cleared the project’s forward movement. The ruling issued last week, according to the Los Angeles Times, stipulates that although the Kurt Meyer structure was not reason enough to stop the project, the project’s approval was incorrectly administered nonetheless. At issue is a proposed street vacation that would eliminate a right-turn lane bounding the project in favor of adding pedestrian sidewalk space to the project. Because the development is a private project, the judge ruled, closing off the right turn late equates with vacating a street, a measure that requires strict and separate approval. The court is sending the project back to the city so the lane closure can be properly approved.
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The “birdhouse ranch” legacy of L.A. suburb builder William Mellenthin

The work of prolific mid-20th century developer and architect William Mellenthin is largely unknown outside of the greater Los Angeles area, where the builder erected more than 3,000 homes over an illustrious career spanning between three decades. Mellenthin, the subject of an informative new book by historian Chris Lukather titled A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes, pioneered the distinctive “birdhouse ranch” style of the single-family home, a housing variant marked by the decorate application of pitched-roofed dovecote components, back-to-back fireplaces, board-and-batten siding, and other traditional stylings. With his development company—Wm. M.Mellenthin Builder—Mellenthin revolutionized single-family housing design in the city’s San Fernando Valley by delivering affordable new semi-custom homes in eye-catching styles. By combining the indoor-outdoor domestic spaces, rambling floor plans, and sturdy construction methods, the Midwesterner became a force to be reckoned with during the nascent real estate bonanza that engulfed the region in the immediate postwar era. Until recently, however, Mellenthin’s work had been largely forgotten due to its humble qualities and the ubiquity of the dovecote style in the San Fernando Valley, following the wholesale adoption of his “birdhouse” treatments by other contemporaneous builders. Nonetheless, interest in Mellenthin’s work is increasing, especially as real estate prices continue to climb around the region. West editor Antonio Pacheco connected with Lukather to talk about Mellenthins’s distinctive stylings, his most notable works, and the somewhat malleable nature of the homes he built.   The Architect’s Newspaper: Who was William Mellenthin and why should architects care about his work? Chris Lukather: William Mellenthin was a prolific builder. He began building homes in Los Angeles in 1923, and built over 3,000 homes in Los Angeles and the San Fernando Valley. [He also] created designs for “Birdhouse” ranch homes that featured a cupola or dovecote built prominently into the roofs of the homes. The undeniable charm and curb appeal of these homes was very popular with home buyers, and, as a result, he created something of a trend. With returning World War II veterans, families wanted a home and lifestyle that epitomized leisure and fun. Mellenthin’s success brought many imitators. Today there are hundreds of “Birdhouse” homes throughout the Valley—many by builders who borrowed the cupola style. But there is only one original, and that is William Mellenthin. Mellenthin was one of several prominent architect-developers of the postwar era—Cliff May and Joseph Eichler are others—How does a Mellenthin home differ from other ranch houses of this period? Mellenthin homes were more “midcentury traditional” than midcentury modern. They featured diamond-paned windows, dual fireplaces, high beamed ceilings, hardwood floors, and wood paneling throughout the house. He usually built floor-to-ceiling windows in the rear of the house to allow more natural light into the home. One trademark of a Mellenthin home was how low it looked from the street. “The lower, the better,” was their motto. Most homeowners I meet today talk about the quality build of his homes. These homes were built to last. Most Mellenthin homes have withstood the major earthquakes, and fared better than other homes built during the same time. What are a few of his more notable works? His most notable work is in the Sherman Oaks area, [where he also designed] the layout of the streets. He created one development in the early 1950s, with only two entrances and nine cul-de-sacs, creating a private, exclusive area of beautiful tree-lined streets and homes. It’s like an oasis in the Valley. These homes, in a variety of styles and sizes, make up the prime Mellenthin development of the era. He [also] built many custom homes in the hills above Studio City, south of Ventura Boulevard. These homes had unique features, and custom-designed cupolas that his homes on the Valley floor usually did not have. You mention in your book that Mellenthin’s son Michael continued the family business and even worked on projects with the architect Cliff May after the elder Mellenthin’s death. What direction did Michael take Wm. Mellenthin Builder when he was in charge? Michael went to the University of Southern California and received a degree in Engineering. He began building homes in the mid-1950s, joining his father’s company and continued working through the 1970s. The family business officially closed in 1978. Although William is known for the quality build of his homes, Michael is known to have built homes better than his father. In the early 1960s, Michael built homes with a more midcentury modern style, and eventually phased out the “Birdhouse” design. Michael also built some commercial buildings in the Valley. Mellenthin worked to provide his clients semi-custom homes—Did he himself envision the buildings as remaining static over time or did he consider them malleable? Mellenthin’s homes were built to suit, so I don’t think he envisioned a lot of remodeling or updates to the homes later on. What would Mellenthin make of some of the changes that some owners have made to his structures? I’m sure he would not be happy with some of the second stories that have been added to his homes today. [However,] a lot of homeowners have knocked out the walls that separate the kitchen from the den or living room. I’m sure he would have welcomed these changes that help create a more open floor plan. This conversation has been edited for length and clarity.  A Birdhouse in Paradise: William Mellenthin and the San Fernando Valley Ranch Homes Chris Lukather Writing Disorder $35.00
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Prolific midcentury architect William Krisel passes away

Prolific midcentury modern architect William Krisel passed away this week at the age of 92. The architect is well-known for the multitudinous midcentury modern homes he designed across Southern California and the surrounding regions. Overall, Krisel is credited with designing over 40,000 homes, in addition to many other types of structures. He is also credited with helping to extend the benefits of mass-produced tract housing throughout the region and with attempting to tackle the stylistic, formal, and urban complexities of these new suburban environments. Krisel, who often worked with the Alexander Construction Company, built homes and condominiums in Arizona, Florida, and Nevada, as well. One of Krisel’s signature projects was the  90-unit Twin Palms development in Palm Springs, California, a tract home development made up of 1,600-square-foot post-and-beam style homes. According to the Krisel Connection site, the homes were designed with varied facades and rooflines, feature clerestory windows along most exposures, and are marked by exposed wood beam construction. Each 10,000-square-foot lot in the development was originally planted with a pair of palm trees—hence the development’s name—that complimented the home’s dramatic landscape designs, also envisioned by Krisel. Architectural historian Alan Hess marked Krisel’s passing in a Facebook post by calling Krisel “one of California's most influential and dedicated Modern architects” who “succeeded in bringing Modern planning and systems to… the design and construction of affordable single family homes for the general public.” With so many built commissions and a wide collection of preservation groups currently working to maintain and promote the architect’s works, it’s clear that Krisel succeeded in pioneering successful early mass housing experiments—the “Holy Grail” of modernism that according to Hess, greats like “Buckminster Fuller, Walter Gropius, and Frank Lloyd Wright sought but never achieved.” Chris Menrad of the executive board of the Palm Springs Modern Committee told the Desert Sun that the architect’s dramatic stylistic vision propelled modern architecture forward. Menrad said, “The concept for offering the builder various roof lines—flat, gables, inverted butterfly or whatever—is something that he sort of brought to the table so that they could essentially have very similar floor plans but have homes that looked quite different.” “And that look, as well as that concept, did get adopted.” Krisel was the subject of a 2016 documentary on the architect’s work titled William Krisel, Architect. The film can be seen on Vimeo.
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In new exhibition, Erwin Wurm uses midcentury furniture to subvert your free will

It’s usually not a good idea to put your feet through a vintage wooden bench, but, in his latest show, artist Erwin Wurm is asking visitors to do just that.

In Wurm’s One Minute Sculptures series, which began in 1997, members of the public follow the artist’s written directions to realize a sculpture—moving around a low plinth to engage (or subvert) the everyday function of fruit, cleaning supplies, and here, midcentury modern furniture.

The latest iteration of these short sculptures references Ethics, Spinzoa's seminal philosophic work that questioned the existence of free will. The success of the art, Wurm says, is directly correlated with how well the person follows his instructions. 

Today, at Ethics demonstrated in geometrical ordervisitors to Lehmann Maupin will realize the sculptures of the Austrian artist via famous furniture he has enhanced with embroidered and carved directions. The Architect’s Newspaper (AN) sat down with Wurm to discuss Alvar Aalto, the strangeness of everyday objects, and the stubborn persistence of midcentury design:

AN: Why did you turn to Spinoza for this exhibition?

Erwin Wurm: Spinoza, especially in [Ethics], he said free will doesn't exist, it's God's will. Scientists now have determined that free will really doesn't exist. Now, 500 years later, I'm asking the same questions. This I find exciting and interesting. When people accept my invitation to follow my instructions, they give up their free will.

Do people ever try to exert their own free will and not follow the directions?

Sure, they can, they're allowed to. But then it's not a piece of mine. Actually, when you Google "one minute sculptures," you see many one minute sculptures, people use the idea. It's nice, it's interesting, but it's no longer a piece of mine.

Why did you decide to use midcentury modern furniture in these latest One Minute Sculptures?

Since 15 years ago, midcentury furniture came back in a big way. When you open a magazine about housing or interior design, these midcentury furnishings are there. They became such a big thing. I found it exciting, and it raised questions for me. People start to define themselves through furniture. When you see the buildings and apartments of famous and successful people, you don't see the people. You see the furniture.

Why did you select the pieces that you did?

I used Alvar Aalto because I always found him exciting. He’s from Finland, and he has this specific relationship to American design. We got the furniture at an auction in Chicago.

Some of the furniture in the series are very expensive, and because of that, there's a meaning people assign to the pieces beyond the design. How do you hope to question the relationship people have with high-value objects?

Every material around is the basis for a new art piece. Recently, in Austria, I had a big show that included three artworks from very famous artists, including Robert Rauschenberg. I added a Rauschenberg to a piece of mine, so I started a discussion that not only every object, or mood, or thought could be the start of a new piece, but also already-finished art can be the start of a new work.

You use humor in your work to draw people in, but that humor can mask as much as it reveals. What do you hope people get out of their engagement with your sculptures?

It's not so much the humor I'm interested in, it's the paradox. What I like in humor is part of the paradox.

For me, to be in this world, to connect with the world, to be able to look from another perspective of reality. We all live in the same world, but we all live in different realities—your reality is very different from mine, or from a person in the wilderness, still hunting with bow and arrows, but we all live in the same time. I find it exciting to change perspective, to look at the world from a different angle, that's what my work is about, I think.

What's the relationship between the melting buildings' organic excess (pictured, left) and the furniture's precise geometry?

They are both objects of our world, created by human beings. The furniture and the architecture, or the telephone, all these things. I always try to transfer or deform them, so the beginning is the same but the form is different. I changed the meaning of the object. One is an object with which you can relate specifically by following the instructions I give, and the other one is not an open piece, so you just can look.

In past iterations of the Organization of Love you used bottles to create a particular relationship between people. Why use an ottoman this time?

It's exciting to use larger objects. At the beginning, the objects were small. Our interfering in the world uses a specific language which is related to a specific time. This inhabits a certain understanding of reality, certain political and social constructions. The 1950s were different than the 90s, or now. In the 50s the midcentury furniture related to this postwar society. This created a totally different aesthetic than nowadays. I'm interested in all these things that interfere in between.

Many midcentury designers wanted their furniture to be beautiful, functional, and available to the masses. But now that ottoman retails for like, $4,000.

I know.

How does that change people's attitudes towards the objects?

The icon was one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. An icon needs mass media to exist, and all this furniture are kind of icons now. And that interests me. That's one of the reasons I use these objects.

This big company in Austria, it built these wooden banded structures—chairs for the working class—that very quickly became chairs for the upper class. That was not only because of the aesthetics but also an [evolving] understanding of early industrial design. Prouvé was the same, early on, Royère, Jeanneret—these French designers, they're extremely expensive now.

Do you have midcentury furniture in your home?

Yes, I have Prouvé and all these things. But I caught myself, I stepped into the same trap that everyone did, because I got attracted all of a sudden by a certain understanding of quality which is only dealing in an interest of time, meaning that contemporary design is less valuable under certain circumstances than an older design. This relays a very specific understanding of how societies function, how the market functions, and how desire functions.

All of a sudden, we desire something that is rarer than what is produced now. Look at cars. We love [these] big new cars, but the old cars—with their much more extraordinary form—attract so many people. But those cars were not extraordinary in the past—they look extraordinary now in relation to mass design of the present. That discrepancy is exciting.

When you realized you were attracted to the value the furniture represents—when did you start to question that?

I started to question it when I came to my house and realized that it looked like one of those interiors magazines, because they all have Prouvé and Perriand, and whatever they're called, and Aalto, and all the American designers. It was no longer a specific taste, it turned into a common taste. So I wound up doing my own furniture by deconstructing old furniture from the 30s.

You're from an architecture publication, right?

Yes.

There are so many great designers now but they don't get the same attention. Maybe Magnusson and others, but they don't get the same prices. It's always interesting how things grow old, get out of the normal interest, disappear, and come back and become exciting. The same happens with art.

(This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.)

Ethics demonstrated in geometrical order runs through May 26. Check Lehmann Maupin's website for more information. 

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Jens Risom, the man who helped introduce Scandinavian design to America, dies

Danish-American furniture designer Jens Risom passed away this month on December 9 in New Canaan, Connecticut at the age of 100. Risom moved to American shores in 1939 at the age of 23 and is best known for his Risom Lounge Chair. A product of his early work with German-American designer Hans G. Knoll, the chair hit the shelves in 1943, making use of unwanted military parachute straps. Risom's work helped paved the way for the emergence of midcentury modern design, riding the wave with compatriot Arne Jacobsen whose chair designs also dominated the 1950s and '60s. “Knoll had a car, and I didn’t,” said Risom speaking to New York Magazine last year, “and we drove around the country to any architect who had shown any interest in our furniture in New York, and stopped wherever there were people who’d liked our things. I don’t think we had a catalogue or anything—this was very primitive. We had drawings of things we had done.” The Danish-born designer was favored by many within the design world. Under Lyndon B. Johnson, a chair from Risom occupied the oval office and in 1961, and Risom even appeared alongside Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen in an edition of Playboy magazine. Risom too wasn't seldom afraid to speak his mind. When meeting Frank Lloyd Wright, Wright asked Risom what he thought of his furniture work. Risom responded: "Not much."
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Explore the midcentury modern masterpieces of Fire Island Pines with these virtual tours

Fire Island Pines off Long Island may not be many people's first port of call as a source for midcentury modern dwellings, but for New York-based architect Christopher Rawlins, it is exactly that. Known as a summer getaway popular among New York's gay community, Fire Island Pines's architectural heritage is now accessible via the website Pines Modern's  audiovisual tours. The tours also explore the island's social and cultural history as a “safe space” and a premier resort for tastemakers in the 1960s and 70s. As the website says, "AIDS took a terrible toll on the population here, which in turn led to a “dark age” in which so much history and culture was lost. Pines Modern is a non-profit endeavor dedicated to the rediscovery of all that the Pines has created, particularly its mid-century architectural and cultural heritage. These are assets that, properly nourished, will ensure that the Pines remains a meaningful and relevant destination for generations to come."

Pines Modern President Christopher Rawlins spoke to The Architect's Newspaper (AN) about his relationship to the island, its architectural scene, and why he created the website. "My book, Fire Island Modernist: Horace Gifford and the Architecture of Seduction, gave Fire Island’s most prolific modernist his due," said Rawlins. Fire Island Modernist focuses on the architect Horace Gifford—who died from AIDS in 1992—and how homosexual liberation was portrayed through architecture. "The guided midcentury house tours that I lead broadened the cast of characters but serve a limited audience," continued Rawlins to AN. "Pines Modern’s website is intended as the most accessible platform yet to share my research, and will hopefully serve as a model for other communities with a rich architectural legacy."

"On my initial motivations: The architecture of the Pines combines my interests in modernism and LGBT history, and the homes are intimately linked to the Stonewall generation that built them. The diminutive proportions of these houses—abetted by the ravages of nature on this glorified sandbar—often mark them as tear-downs. Meanwhile, the loss of most of these architects, and their audience, during the AIDS crisis has ironically conspired with recent civil rights triumphs to threaten Fire Island’s relevance. As it becomes safer for gay people to venture to any number of leisure destinations, my hope is that Fire Island Pines retains its status as a homeland and a rite of passage, a place where one finds community and a connection to LGBT history. We cannot bring back a lost generation, but we can preserve their most salient artifacts and the environment in which they flourished."

You can access the website here.

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Columbus, Indiana’s modern architecture inspired a new feature film

For a small city, Columbus, Indiana has an impressive collection of modern architecture. Despite a population of only 44,000, the city has works from John Carl Warnecke, Eliel and Eero Saarinen, I. M. Pei, and many more notable modernists. Columbus will provide the backdrop for the feature directorial debut of Kogonada, a filmmaker well known for his video essays. According to Variety, the film will feature Star Trek star John Cho and indie darling Parker Posey. Columbus's modern architecture was the inspiration for the film's story. Kogonada told Variety that "After visiting the town, I felt an immediate sense for a film that would take place there, which would implicitly explore the promise of modernism (an ongoing quest for me). The story revolves around a man and young woman from opposite sides of the world, each mourning the potential loss of a parent.” Cho will play the son of an architecture critic, while co-star Haley Lu Richardson will play the daughter of an addict. The pair finds a bond through their estranged parents and their love of architecture. Posey will play the role of a former student and current girlfriend of Cho's father. The film is currently shooting in Columbus, which has been called the "Athens of the Prairie" because of its status as a mecca for midcentury modernism. The city has no less than seven National Historic Landmarks, and a biennial design exhibition is in the works starting in 2017. Columbus is also the home of Cummins, Inc., a Fortune 500 corporation that specializes in engines (see our article on preserving an architectural gem Cummins commissioned.) Considering that architecture is a focal point of both the location and the plot, we can hope to see some of the city's iconic buildings featured in the film. Some likely locations might be the Art Nouveau style Fire Station One by Leighton Bowers, Eliel Saarinen's First Christian Church, or his son Eero's North Christian Church, the last building he designed before his death in 1961. Other well-known locations include several of the city's bridges, and Friendship Way, a brick-lined alley with sculptures and neon lights.
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Explore “Playboy Architecture” at the Elmhurst Art Museum

On display for the first time in the United States, Playboy Architecture, 1953–1979, explores how architecture and design gave a space and shape to the world of Playboy magazine. The show also investigates the influence of Playboy on the architecture and design industry. The show is designed by Amunátegui Valdés Architects, based in Santiago, Chile, and is curated by Beatriz Colomina and Pep Avilés in collaboration with the PhD program of the School of Architecture and the Program in Media and Modernity at Princeton University. The exhibition features an extensive collection of photographs, films, architectural models, and designed objects from the first 26 years of Playboy. The show will be in the Mies van der Rohe–designed McCormick House at Elmhurst Art Museum.

Playboy Architecture, 1953–1979 is on view May 7–August 28 at the Elmhurst Art Museum, 150 Cottage Hill Avenue, Elmhurst, Illinois.

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Hodgetts + Fung adds a Calder-inspired arch to Culver City’s Robert Frost Auditorium

Love for midcentury modern architecture is at a fever pitch. An era long known for its iconoclastic forms and ruthless experimentation might some day soon also become synonymous with something quite unexpected: thoughtful and gentle renovations.

Such is the case with Hodgetts + Fung Architecture’s impending renovation of Culver City’s Robert Frost Auditorium, a 1964 piece of flair by architects by Flewelling and Moody that is inscribed into the Angeleno landscape. Flewelling and Moody’s ginkgo leaf-shaped auditorium is made of poured-in-place concrete that is only four inches thick and undulates to create a sweeping roof anchored to the ground by a massive foot. Craig Hodgetts told AN, “It’s a real representation of that era’s architecture and could not be replicated today.”

This modern marvel of engineering has withstood several major earthquakes, including the 6.7 Northridge Earthquake in 1994, with no damage whatsoever. The 1,200-seat auditorium’s interior, however, was poorly designed from the onset, with inefficient and inadequate HVAC systems as well as generally inflexible seating and ceiling heights. Home to Culver City High School’s theatre troupe, the building is finally being remodeled to include a completely new HVAC system, a new black box stage, and a permanent-but-flexible catwalk.

Because of the building’s impressive structural maneuvers, architects for the project had to make special overtures in their designs, erecting an Alexander Calder-inspired arch within the space to anchor the stage and catwalk without touching the existing structure or disturbing the post-tension rods located within the existing slab. “We used x-rays to determine exactly where on the floor plate the tension elements occur. The massive steel structure comes down daintily with a petito quality between those elements. “The interior was made into something that measured up to the exterior,” Hodgetts told AN, remarking on the technically complicated scheme.

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Watergate Hotel reopens after a $125 million gut renovation, with design nods to the 1960s

Bellhops dressed in Sixties-themed uniforms created by costume designer Janie Bryant from the Mad Men television series. Guest rooms that resemble cabins on a cruise ship, only filled with midcentury modern furniture. Guest room keys bearing a message that makes a not so subtle reference to the Nixon era: “No need to break in…” Those are just a few of the design touches guests will find at the Watergate Hotel, on the banks of the Potomac River in Washington, D. C. Located at 2650 Virginia Avenue N. W. and closed since 2007, the hotel reopened today after a six-year, $125 million renovation. As part of the work, the number of rooms has increased from 251 to 336, including 32 suites. 17,000 square feet of meeting and event space have been added, including a 7,000 square foot ballroom. The developer is Euro Capital Properties of New York, headed by Jacques and Rakel Cohena, a husband and wife team. The architects were BBGM of Washington and Ron Arad Architects of London. Room rates start at $435 per night. Originally designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti in 1961, the Watergate Hotel gained attention for its contemporary design, and it came to epitomize the lifestyle and sophistication of its time. In the latest renovations, the 1960s exterior was preserved, but the interior was gutted and rebuilt. The architects put emphasis on playing off the midcentury modern design and playing up the sense of retro luxury and swank that distinguishes this hotel from more traditional Washington hotels such as the Willard InterContinental on Pennsylvania Avenue. Much of the furniture has been designed to look as if it dates from the 1960s. In a nod to the hotel's Italian heritage and inspired by its curves and undulations, Arad looked to sculptural, modern furnishings by the Italian designer Moroso. Arad also designed a new whiskey bar that's marked by a sculpture made of metal and whiskey bottles. The rooftop bar has a fire pit and sweeping views of the Potomac River, the Capitol, and the Washington Monument. The designers and developers didn't shy away from the Watergate’s link to the break-in that brought down a president. The hotel's customer service phone number ends in 1972, and recordings of Richard Nixon’s speeches will play periodically in public restrooms. “The Watergate is undoubtedly one of the most glamorous and illustrious hotels in the world," said Rakel Cohen, senior vice president of design and development for Euro Capital Properties. "We have paid meticulous attention to every detail in its renovation…. Its intrigue is driven by evocative design, from the retro feel that we have infused to the mystique that lies behind every curve of the hotel's architecture."
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Harry Bertoia, Lina Bo Bardi, and more, to be featured in a Museum of Art and Design film series

A new film series at the Museum of Arts and Design (MAD), dubbed "Midcentury Masters," will focus on several prominent postwar architects and designers, including sculptor and furniture designer Henry Bertoia, who is currently being featured in exhibits at the museum, and his contemporaries Buckminster Fuller, Charles & Ray Eames, and Lina Bo Bardi. The series kicks off on June 16 with Charles & Ray Eames: The Architect and the Painter. This feature length documentary, narrated by James Franco, traces the lives and careers of the legendary husband-and-wife team and highlights their influence on American art and culture. The 1965 short film Bertoia’s Sculpture will be screened immediately after and will feature a soundtrack composed by Bertoia himself. On June 23 the museum will screen The World of Buckminster Fuller, a documentary about the eclectic architect and inventor; it features extensive interviews with Fuller himself. The series will continue on June 30 with a double feature about Italian-Brazilian modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi. MAD describes the four-minute long The New World of Lina Bo Bardi as “fan fiction” for the architect: it shows images based on her sketches and buildings. Next, Precise Poetry—released on the year of what would have been her 100th birthdayis made up of an extensive collection of interviews with friends and associates of Bo Bardi. This film series is presented in conjunction with two exhibitions about the work of Harry Bertoia. The Bent, Cast & Forged (running until September 25, 2016) exhibit will show Bertoia’s jewelry, which he began making as a high school student after coming to America from Italy at the age of 15. He returned to the craft when furniture-scale metalworking became prohibitively expensive during World War II. Bertoia went on to design the famous Bertoia Collection for the Knoll furniture company that included the Diamond chair, the success of which allowed him to devote the latter part of his career to sculpture. Bertoia’s sound sculptures are the subject of the Atmosphere for Enjoyment (also running until September 25, 2016) exhibit, which aims to recreate the experience of hearing his sculptures “played” in the stone barn on the sculptor’s Pennsylvania property. Sound sculptures, as the name suggests, are sculptures that make noise when touched or moved by the wind. Bertoia recorded hundreds of audiotapes of his works, which are collectively known as Sonambient. More details on all these films can be found here.