Places We Love

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we talked with our staff about buildings, places and spaces we love. Sometimes our love comes from an appreciation of the form of a place, while others times it comes from something a little more intangible.  From parks to monuments, cathedrals to dry cleaners (yes, dry cleaners), here below are some of our loves from around the world. And, since today is all about sharing the love, we hope you’ll take a moment to tell us about the places and spaces you love.

Palazzo Ducale, Mantova – The trompe l’oeil ceiling of the Camera degli Sposi in the Palazzo Ducale in Mantova by Andrea Mantegna.  The mooning puti at 9:30 is too good to pass up on Valentine’s day.     Craig Williams, Principal

Palazzo Ducale, Montova

San Andrea al Quirinale, Rome – The church is small, but its design recalls the massive historical and spiritual meaning of its city.  For a chapel for young Jesuit missionaries – many of whom would be martyred – Bernini built on a site sacred to the ancient Romans, with an oval plan derived from that of the Colosseum, a blood red marble interior, and a statue of the crucified St. Andrew rising up into the dome.  Every detail perfectly symbolizes the mission of the building’s client.    Will Seath, Architectural Staff

San Miniato al Monte, Florence – San Miniato is seated high on a hilltop overlooking Florence. It takes a mini pilgrimage of sorts to reach the Olivetian monastery, climbing up winding residential streets, but it is worth every effort. The Romanesque basilica and surrounding complex are a gorgeous and serene destination full of many wonderful spaces. The nave has a beautiful floor of inlaid stone zodiac patterns, which seems very unusual for a church and adds to the special of aura of the place. I’ve been several times and urge everyone who visits Florence to add San Miniato to their itinerary. It never disappoints.      Katie Garrett, Marketing & Communications Director 

San Miniato al Monte

Musée Jacquemart-Andre, Paris – Built by my great-great-uncle, Henri Parent ( 1819-1895), for a rich banker, aspiring politician and Italian art collector on the Grands Boulevards in Paris and now a quaint museum with a wonderful art collection Canalettto, Tiepolo, etc… similar to The Frick Collection and the Phillips here in D.C.  As I walked through the porte-cochere to meet with the curator, I was sensitive and proud to the fact that it came of the pencil of my ancestor.     Jeffrey Loman, Associate

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Musee Jacquemart-Andre, Paris

Bryant Park, New York City – A well proportioned, green lawn-ed oasis in the midst of the bustle of the city that allows you to quietly (for city standards) enjoy a read from the NY Public Library, a ride on a carousel or a warming gaze of John Howells and Raymond Hood’s American Radiator Building.     Jon Zubiller, Associate

Grand Central Station, New York City – Growing up outside of NYC, there was no greater moment than taking  the train in Manhattan and stepping into the magnificent Main Concourse. The richness of detail and the grandeur of the spaces put me in awe to this day each and every time I pass through.     Jon Toonkel, Associate

Grand Central Station

Grand Central Station

The Empire State Building, New York City – I love the Empire State Building. I always loved it as a child in NYC….standing on the Observation Deck and seeing out over the “whole” city is an amazing feeling. I love having rediscovered it during the design of The Smith Center.  Now, I love it for other, more architectural reasons: materials; details; craftsmanship.     Ramsay Fairburn, Associate

Cartier Mansion, New York City – I love the design of the Cartier mansion on 5th and 52nd, it was purchased by Cartier from the Plant family for a double strand of Pearls almost 100 years ago. The molding and detailing in the ceiling is all original, and it’s very traditional in that it is a bunch of small rooms. They are all broken up on different levels with marble staircases and hidden doors. I assume the hidden doors used to be used for servants but now the sales people and security use to travel from one location to the next. Carpets are Cartier red and there’s lots of dark woods and strategic lighting for the diamonds. It also has an amazing view of fifth avenue.     Heather Pripstein, Administrative Assistant

St. Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow – I’ve been there several times and it is absolutely beautiful. I don’t know why, but I just feel a connection. I love the history and its uniqueness, especially in the context of other Russian buildings in Moscow.     Eric Rebbert, CAO

Eric Rebbert in Red Square

Eric Rebbert in Red Square

The Washington Monument, Washington, D.C. – I proposed to my fiancée Camila there last year; so now every time I pass there I think about that moment in time.     Isaac Bonilla, Architectural Staff

Union Station, Washington, D.C. – What a glorious way to enter into the city of DC and the Nation’s capital.     Gregory Hoss, Principal

Weller’s Dry Cleaners, Silver Spring – The building my dry cleaners is located in and that I visit every Saturday morning for the past 13 years. It’s not a great piece of architecture, but its mid century modern flourishes really stand out and make a statement. It is anonymous commercial architecture trying hard not to be anonymous. There is also something quaint about its well worn exterior and outlandish clock sign. I just can’t help but smile each time I pass by this building. This is due in no small measure to the connections I have made over the years with people who work there. Sometimes love, like wine, gets better with age.     Steve Knight, Associate

Weller's Dry Cleaners

Weller’s Dry Cleaners

The Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. – The exterior is a beautifully executed example of Beaux-Arts architecture, however it is the grand spaces within that really inspire me.  The oversized Great Hall with richly painted ceilings contrasted against stark white sculptural marble with mosaic tile floors elevate architecture to an art form which is rarely seen in the US.  I could spend days inside and not fully grasp all the symbolism told within each mural, relief and mosaic.     Matt Ireton, Architectural Staff

Great Hall, Library of Congress Thomas Jefferson Building

The Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. – I love this building for its detailing, art, sculpture, proportion and celebration of both the human spirit and human endeavor. The building has a special and unique unity about it. The contents and the design of the building harmonize in their shared celebration of great human accomplishments – knowledge, creativity, reasoning, invention.     David Schwarz, President

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  1. […] honor of Valentine’s Day, we once again spoke with our staff about the buildings, spaces, and places they love the most. The subjects of […]



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