Inspiration from Roma - Elizabeth Unique Hotel

As architects in Charleston, we are students of history successfully meeting modernity and seek out those moments when homage is paid to historic structures with meaningful renovations for current day functions. During a recent visit to Rome, we found ourselves in one such transformation at the Palazzo Pulieri Ginetti - the Elizabeth Unique Hotel. An ancient palazzo, lush and thoughtful interiors by Studio Marincola Architects, art curated by the nearby Russo Art Gallery - it’s a wonder we ever left. The architects, interior designers, artists and craftspeople involved with this hotel design struck the perfect balance of honoring the historic vessel it inhabits while offering an environment that is somehow bold and restrained at the same time; the details were as powerful as the overarching effect. Bravo, we will be learning from this one for a long time.

Entry lobby. Artist:  Enrico Benetta

Entry lobby. Artist: Enrico Benetta

Monumental stair design was perfection: carrara marble, lighted gold handrails with dark wood guards. Sculpture:  Enrico Benetta

Monumental stair design was perfection: carrara marble, lighted gold handrails with dark wood guards. Sculpture: Enrico Benetta

Manuel Felisi’s  collage anchors the stair landing. [If you know the lighting designer / manufacturer for the light fixtures, please let us know.]

Manuel Felisi’s collage anchors the stair landing. [If you know the lighting designer / manufacturer for the light fixtures, please let us know.]

Edited entry into the room, neutral colors, arches are introduced with gold accents.

Edited entry into the room, neutral colors, arches are introduced with gold accents.

Old meets new: vintage black and white sceneries printed on wall covering adds a nostalgic layer but the execution and composition is quite contemporary.

Old meets new: vintage black and white sceneries printed on wall covering adds a nostalgic layer but the execution and composition is quite contemporary.

Probably the best color of blue we have ever seen was introduced on the wall separating the sleeping area from the utilities. You can see the gold accents better here.

Probably the best color of blue we have ever seen was introduced on the wall separating the sleeping area from the utilities. You can see the gold accents better here.

Giorgio Tentolini’s  wire net artworks. This person is a genius.

Giorgio Tentolini’s wire net artworks. This person is a genius.

“Dandelion” by Enrico Benetta

“Dandelion” by Enrico Benetta

Mount Pleasant Modern

“Modern architecture does not mean the use of immature new materials; the main thing is to refine materials in a more human direction.” Alvar Aalto

Design goals for this residence included simple lines, livable spaces and sustainability. Thoughtful and exacting decisions were made collectively with the client, architect and builder. Materials include warm woods, stucco and glass.

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22 years in Charleston | An Ode to Clark + Menefee

Today is Rush and Judy Dixon's "Relocating to Charleston" anniversary and Clark + Menefee (a brilliant but now disbanded architecture firm) is, by and large, to thank. The makings of this inspired chapter of two interns coming to this magnetic city started with a third year assignment at Virginia Tech's College of Architecture and Urban Studies. We were to visit an off-campus piece of architecture, study/sketch/photograph the building's merits and report back to the studio. The Middleton Inn was chosen, which at the time had recently been completed, garnering press and design awards. It was liberating to read how an inn just steps from The Middleton Plantation was boldly modern yet rooted in historic and local contexts. The stucco walls, the chimney pots, the "Charleston Green" paint, wood shutters, the rigor of the floor plan and detailing of the guest rooms are still humbling after all years. 

 

“We saw it as a chance to prove that modernism didn’t have to be strident or out of place, so we took careful pains to have that reflect touches of Charleston tradition,” Clark says.

[from Robert Behre's Post + Courier article in 2011 as the building turned 25 years old.]

That visit securely planted the Charleston seed. Future excursions showed us the charm of the historic city, its cosmopolitan and European soul, and the reality of how an historic city can be relevant in a modern world. Happy Anniversary indeed.