Page C1.1 . 14 April 2004                     
ArchitectureWeek - Culture Department
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    Postcard from San Francisco

    ArchWeek Image

    Partial reconstruction of the foyer of the Strand Palace Hotel, currently on display in San Francisco. The London hotel, built circa 1930 was an art deco masterpiece in glass, marble, and metal. Photography by Ann Rasmussen.

    ArchWeek Image

    Detail of the Strand Palace Hotel foyer.

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    Basswood model of Rockefeller Center by Owen H. Ramsburg.

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    Rene Paul Chambellen’s wrought-iron and bronze entrance gates to the executive suites of the Chanin Building, New York, 1928.


    Click on thumbnail images to view full-size pictures.

    Dear ArchitectureWeek,

    The exhibition Art Deco 1910-1939 has opened at the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco and will be on view until July 4, 2004. Although entire buildings cannot be brought into the museum, the exhibit successfully captures the essence of the deco style through films, drawings, furniture, models, posters, and reconstructed rooms.

    Old footage of cityscapes and skyscrapers flickers on the walls, creating imposing shadows that loom behind architectural models, bringing to life the motion and energy of the urban environment in the bustling years just before the Great Depression.

    Standing impressively alone in the central gallery is the partially reconstructed foyer of the Strand Palace Hotel in London. It was saved from the wrecking ball during a 1969 remodel and has been in storage ever since. Combining traditional and contemporary materials, the foyer has internally illuminated, translucent, molded-glass balustrades and columns, with walls of pale pink marble and a floor of limestone.

    The innovative use of chromed steel and glass creates a vision of glamour that was called “a dazzling essay in geometry and light” and won its designer, Oliver P. Bernard, much praise. Bernard had worked as a set designer in theater and opera, which clearly influenced his work at the Strand Palace Hotel. Art Deco transformed the look of art and architecture, auto design and fashion, Hollywood films and travel. Its influence reached cities as far apart as Paris, New York, San Francisco, Bombay, and Shanghai.

    This exhibit was organized by the Victoria and Albert Museum in London and will travel to Boston's Museum of Fine Arts in August, 2004.

    From San Francisco,
    Ann Rasmussen

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