Exhibit Wall Panel


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The Frankfurt Intercontinental Hotel was built in 1963 on the site of the former park facing the promenade known as the Nizza, a four-acre Mediterranean garden that runs alongside the river Main. At the time of the hotel’s construction, Frankfurt was becoming a major international city for banking, but with few options in the way of accommodations for business travelers. For its first hotel on the Continent, Pan-Am opted for a bold statement that would reflect the company’s new international outlook. A slim rectangular block with ends that terminate in a v-shape like the prow of a ship, the Frankfurt Intercontinental floated above the water like a modern cruise liner. Light and transparency were afforded by continuous horizontal bands of windows that wrapped around the building’s exterior. Airy in feeling, its appearance belies the fact that at its opening, the Intercontinental became and Europe’s largest hotel. It was built by the German partnership of Apel and Beckert, the same architects who had been commissioned to design the new Oper Frankfurt, an arts building complex.

The interior design echoed the sophistication of the building’s facade. A wide glass-enclosed lobby, running the full-length of the building, provided clear views of the bustling arrivals and departures of the hotel’s international clientele. Structural rectangular piers were playfully echoed by decorative vertical stacks of alternating wood and glass hexagons, while other functional elements, like the shops, were encased in rectangular wood boxes with bulls-eye display windows. A circular firepit, unexpectedly tucked into a quieter area of the lobby and ringed by Saarinen black leather lounge chairs, encouraged polyglot conversation. The warm wall coverings and flooring of the hotel’s restaurants and lounges contrasted with the walls of windows, as well as a 21st story open terrace, that provided stunning views of the river Main and the Frankfurt Cathedral. The public spaces featured the latest in modern furnishings, such as Saarinen tables and Knoll chairs, spherical hanging lights by such companies as Lightolier, sculptured grids fabricated from Oregon pine which served as room dividers, and hanging ceilings of plywood pyramids and gilt rings. Photographic murals of city landmarks, blown-up, cropped, and rendered in a punchy, black-and-white graphic style, lined the corridors leading to the guest rooms, while more than 1,000 pieces of original artwork by young German artists, all selected by Prince and his team, decorated the actual suites.

Sleek modern touches suited to the hotel’s mostly business clientele were offset by theatrical nods to Frankfurt’s cultural landscape. Prince employed Hein Heckroth, a German set and costume designer for the German national ballet who had moved to England in the 1940s to work on such dance-related films as The Red Shoes, to create handmade tapestries depicting characters from that movie, as well as costume and scenic watercolors for a production of Le Nozze de Figaro, and a set of costumed doll figures from Don Carlo. The more informal coffee shop also featured wall-to-wall images enlarged from German woodcuts of peasants dancing. Heckroth’s designs for The Red Shoes would eventually enter the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Exhibit Wall Panel