THE NEXT BEST THING TO SYMMETRY IS THE APPEARANCE OF SYMMETRY

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Awhile back, I did this conceptual design for the Dury Hotel expansion in New Orleans, which is currently under construction, but unfortunately, this design was not developed as I originally designed it.  The program includes five levels of parking over first floor meeting rooms and topped by three floors of guest rooms.  The upper floors of guest rooms are set back one bay on the Lafayette Street (left) side.  Whereas this building fronts on Carondelet Street, the main hotel building fronts on Poydras Street, on the right side.  The main hotel building is set back by a large surface parking lot on the corner of Carondelet Street and Poydras Street, so the connection to the main hotel occurs at the rear corners of both the main hotel and this annex.

The Carondelet Street facade has a rusticated base with segmental arched openings, a large cornice, and a mid section with arched openings below where the parking levels occur, and punched openings with double hung windows where the guest rooms occur.  The upper floor of guest rooms have windows that are located below the main cornice, and have a continuous architrave band in place of the sill, creating a complete entablature with the band of upper windows and the recessed panels between the windows forming the frieze of the entablature.

The lowest parking level occurs at the transom of the first floor segmental arched openings.  The arched openings are articulated as two floors and an arched transom, but actually the two floors are actually concealing three parking levels.  These deceitful devices are necessary on parking garages because the floor-to-floor heights are often so short, and the squat proportions that would result if each level were articulated would be undesirable.

The structural column grid lines are shown at the bottom of the elevation, and its the location of these columns that made the composition of this elevation so tricky.  Notice that the second bay from the right and from the left is slightly smaller than all the other bays, but because of the setback at the Lafayette Street side, the main portion of the facade starts off, from the left, a short bay, three equal bays, another short bay and then another large bay equal to the other three.  The challenge was to get this main portion of the facade to be symmetrical, but since that was not possible, I had to make it look like it was symmetrical.

To achieve this appearance of symmetry, the first and last bays of arched openings are pushed as far to the left as they can go, with the structural columns falling right at, or very near to, the face of the structural column.  Similarly the second bay of arched openings on the left side that is within the same structural bay is pushed to the far right, as close as it could possibly be to the column.  The resulting pier width between the arched openings is then duplicated on the right side, and the other arched openings inserted in between at equal spaces.  The result is that I have eight bays of arched openings with the first and last bays separated by a slightly wider pier than the middle bays, which is desirable in classical architecture.

The large space between the arched openings and the corners of the facade are articulated with pedimented aediculae.

The guest room windows, which are six-over-six double hung units, are each aligned over the vertical axis of the arched window bay below, and smaller two-over-two double hung units are located over the aediculae.

The cornice has regularly spaced block modillions.  The modillions are spaced, starting at the corner of the upper bed moulding on each side, and are arranged so that there is a space between each that is approximately twice the width of the modillion.  The bays are then tweaked, that is they are slightly adjusted so that, in this case all the windows are centered between two modillions.  There is one exception:  The small windows on the right side are centered on the modillion rather than the space between the modillions.  That’s your one clue that this facade is not quite symmetrical; it has the appearance of symmetry.

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