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DC’s Watergate Hotel gets a massive makeover

November 24, 2016

Over the past 44 years, the Watergate Hotel has become an architectural icon. Its past is heavy as it was here, in 1972, that the Nixon presidency began unraveling. Over the past 50 years, the building’s interior has remained relatively unchanged. Luigi Moratti, the Modernist Italian architect, came up with this curvilinear design intended to emulate the nearby Potomac River. When it opened in 1965, the look was considered controversial for the conservative D.C. society; but the hotel soon became the place to be seen.

Sadly, ownership has changed constantly since the mid 1980’s- 2007. and not a lot of attention was given to the aging building. In 2010, Euro Capital Properties bought the hotel and invested $120 million into much needed renovations. Ron Arad‘s firm was chosen to spruce up the tired lobby, bar and restaurant. Listed as a national monument, Arad knew that careful attention was necessary to produce a successful end product. Patinated metals were brought in to interact with the marble and plaster in existence; as well as tons of Italian marble. One of the biggest challenges, according to Arad, was working around the lobby’s enormous support pillars. Rather than trying to obscure them, the pillars were resurfaced with materials that reflected the outside. Perhaps in this new age, a hotel with a political past is just what’s needed!

The new Whiskey Bar. Since 2005, the Watergate Hotel has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning that the building’s exterior can not be altered.

Image courtesy of: Slate

The London-based Ron Arad Architects provided the Watergate Hotel with a splashy mid-century look fitting for… the Watergate Hotel.

Image courtesy of: Surface Magazine, photographed by: Justin Tsucalas

This building was Luigi Moretti‘s only U.S. project.

Image courtesy of: Surface Magazine, photographed by Justin Tsucalas

The lipstick red chairs throughout the lobby and within the Whiskey Bar are from a long-standing Arad and Moroso collaboration. 

Image courtesy of: The Watergate Hotel