Exhibit Wall Panel
By 1978, Inter-Continental had acquired hotels in Europe, South America, the Middle East, Asia, Africa, and the Pacific—everywhere except three locations in North America. Most of the Inter-continental Hotels were new constructions by local architectural firms, but designed from top to bottom by Inter-Continental’s Department of Interior and Graphic Design. However, in the 1970s, the Inter-Continental team also worked on a number of important renovations of two legendary hotels: the Continental in Paris, and the Marks Hopkins in San Francisco. At 48th Street east of Park Avenue, The Barclay Hotel, a grand luxury hotel from another era that now found itself lodged between glass and steel skyscrapers, was purchased by Inter-Continental and identified for a third significant restoration and refurbishing.
The Barclay had been built in 1926 by Cross and Cross as hotel rooms and living accommodations for New York’s elite. The neo-Federal style building featured Colonial furnishings and interiors. The original designer for the Barclay, W. & J. Sloane, was swept up in a Colonial Revival that reached its peak in the 1920s, selected patriotic motifs, such as the American eagle and stars as design elements for rug and wall coverings and ceiling ornamentation. Rooms and public spaces were decorated with chintz, old prints, screens, Duncan Phyfe and
Chippendale furniture, tasteful appointments meant to evoke, according to an early advertisement for the hotel, America’s “most gracious age.” A Tiffany skylight in the hotel’s lobby, sober and refined in keeping with this Colonial Revival’s philosophy of restraint, was later joined in the 1940s with what was for some an incongruous addition, a lavish bronze aviary filled with exotic birds. The aviary remained a notable attraction long after the hotel began to decline.
Prince and his design team planned a return to the classical American elegance that had defined the Barclay when it first opened. Original details, like the patriotic elements of the pilasters and cornices in the lobby, were tastefully restored. For the interiors, they designed rooms with wall coverings, carpets, and simple but high-quality furnishings with an emphasis on craftsmanship. The King’s Restaurant was redecorated keeping with the Colonial virtues of the original design and renamed the Barclay Restaurant. In guest rooms and public spaces, fine leather sofas, wool carpeting, Oriental screens, and chinoiserie lamps created simple yet homey environments where the color palette
was dominated by reds, browns, whites, and blues. In one of the more significant changes dictated by the business-oriented clientele, the Manhattan Club, a private club on the third floor, was divided into a series of board rooms. Designed by Trisha Wilson of Wilson Associates, the rooms were named for established New York families, and graced with inset paintings that evoked historical American time periods.
Although not part of the original 1920s décor, the hotel was reluctant to part with the lobby birdcage because it had evolved into a popular meeting spot. It was replaced by a new, more extravagant, 14-foot bronze and mirrored model designed by team member William Embury. The birdcage, which became home to nine tropical birds, featured prominently in an advertising campaign to make the Barclay Hotel “an island at the heart of the world’s most exciting island.” Prince and his design envisioned the Barclay as the new, chic place to rendezvous in Manhattan, and successfully marketed the tagline, “Meet me at the Birdcage.”