Sunday, May 17, 2015

Daily Express Building, London

Completed in 1932. The outside of this building is sleek modernism with panels of black vitrolite -- I don't know what vitrolite is, but it just sounds like a product of the machine age. The architect, Owen Williams, was once an airplane designer.

Inside the lobby, though, is a "paean to Art Deco" designed by Robert Atkinson. with sculptures by Eric Aumonier.

The world's most astonishing banisters.


The entrance is flanked by two reliefs, showing Britain and The Empire.



More details. I love this stuff but it is so instantly evocative of one brief moment in time that it is hard for designers to re-use any of these elements in a fresh way.

2 comments:

G. Verloren said...

"I don't know what vitrolite is, but it just sounds like a product of the machine age."

Vitrolite is a brand name of a material also known as vitreous marble - but it isn't actually marble, it's a sort of pigmented structural glass. It was often used in place of marble, in part because it is non-porous and therefor more sanitary than marble is for uses such as kitchen countertops or bathroom surfaces, and in part because it was somewhat cheaper and entirely more uniform in appearance.

Vitrolite is very heavily associated with art deco, chiefly centered in the UK and the American northeast, and it pretty much stopped being used entirely in the US after WWII, in large part due to the development of other superior synthetic materials.

kpgoog said...

http://www.hagley.org/librarynews/what-vitrolite-another-question-answered-hagley-library