All posts by Nicole Palmeter

Luigi Moretti and Casa del Balilla, Trastevere, Rome

Casa del BalillaSource:

Casa del Balilla was built between 1934 and 1937 with materials such as marble, stone, and granite.

Hotel Book 1Source: Reichlin, Bruno. “Luigi Moretti: Razionalismo e
transgressivitá tra barocco e informale” Milano: Electa. 2010

Hotel Book 2 Source: Reichlin, Bruno. “Luigi Moretti: Razionalismo e
transgressivitá tra barocco e informale” Milano: Electa. 2010

There was not much information on this building, and the book I found in the Architecture library on Moretti was in Italian, which I do not read. He also has/had a website, but it crashed every time I tried to visit. There was also little information on his Hotel El-Aurassi in Algiers, Algeria, that I was going to do this post on, but I thought it would be neat to include information about Moretti himself.


Luigi Moretti was born in Italy in 1907 to architect Luigi Rolland. He studied at the Royal School of Architecture in Rome and graduated with honors in 1929. Between 1942 and 1945 he withdrew from the public eye and reappeared in 1945, and was then arrested for collaborating with fascist. From 1950 to 1953 he founded and published Space: Review of Arts and Architecture Magazine. He died in 1973 at the age of 66.

Casa Il Girasole aka “The Sunflower”, Rome

Casa Il Girasole, aka The Sunflower, by Luigi Moretti is a residential apartment block in Rome.

Il Girasole

Built in 1950, it is considered by some to be an early example of postmodern architecture.

FAcciate - Casa Girasole - Moretti

The side profiles of the building fan out to maximize solar exposure which creates a distortion of symmetry and balance.

Casa il gir book 2
Source: Reichlin, Bruno. “Luigi Moretti: Razionalismo e transgressivitá tra barocco e informale” Milano: Electa. 2010

Tour de la Bourse (Stock Exchange Tower), Montreal, Quebec, Canada


The Tour de la Bourse, designed by Luigi Moretti, was completed in 1964. The 48-story skyscraper was built to function as the Stock Exchange in Montreal, Canada.

Montreal Building Book 1
Source: Reichlin, Bruno. “Luigi Moretti: Razionalismo e transgressivitá tra barocco e informale” Milano: Electa. 2010

 The exterior is clad in a bronze-tinted anodized aluminum curtain wall with pre-cast concrete columns at the four corners. Until 1967, at 636 feet tall, the Tour de la Bourse was the tallest building in Canada.

Stock Exchange 3

Two floors, one at 1/3 height and the second at 2/3 height of the tower, have recessed corners that create open air spaces.

Montreal Building Book 3
Source: Reichlin, Bruno. “Luigi Moretti: Razionalismo e transgressivitá tra barocco e informale” Milano: Electa. 2010

Fencing Academy (aka Casa Balilla sperimentale) at Foro Italico (nee Mussolini), Rome (Originally known as the Foro Mussolini)

Construction began on Luigi Moretti’s Casa Balilla Sperimentale in 1934 and was completed in 1936. The Academy was designed as part of a sports complex masterplan dubbed Mussolini’s Forum, which also included the Duce’s Gymnasium, the Memorial, and the Empire Plaza. The facades of the interior are clad in white Carrara marble. The southern edge of the the building held the House of Arms. The ‘short edge’ of the building housed the ‘room of fencing’, which was 45 meters long and 25 meters wide and could hold 160 athletes. In the 1970’s the building was used during the Red Brigade trials and was the most use the building ever saw.


Fencing 3


Watergate Complex, Washington DC


Watergate ComplexSource:

Luigi Moretti was the chief architect on the Watergate Complex project in Washington DC, which consists of a total of five buildings. Construction began in 1963 and the last building was completed in January 1971.  The project was the first mixed-use development project in DC and includes apartment buildings, a hotel, business offices, a health club, restaurants, a shopping mall, medical and dental offices, grocery, pharmacy, a post office, and a liquor store.

Watergate 2Source:

The design was inspired by the curved structures of the expressway that was to be constructed in front of the complex and the original design of the Kennedy Center (The Kennedy Center later became a rectangle). There were some controversies over the height of the buildings and the use of public spaces which resulted in the project spending time in approval processes. It had to go through the National Capital Planning Commission, the District of Columbia Zoning Commission, and the United States Commission of Fine Arts.

Watergate 3

The Watergate Complex is most famously known for the ‘Watergate Scandal’ in 1972. Some notable residents are Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Monica Lewinsky (living in her mother’s apartment), Condoleeza Rice, and Elizabeth Taylor.


I wasn’t going to include a building that I was a part of, but the Red PrimeSteak location was probably one of the funnest that I was a part of.



The architect, Rand Elliott, is known for his … cookiness… but what this man can do with some T5 light bulbs and some gel wraps is sometimes amazing.


The clients had a big hand in the design and furniture selection, but the architect was also a big part of the design and construction practices.



One of the funnest, for me, parts of this project was the wine rack. From what I remember it is about 25 feet wide and about 20 feet tall and is made out of iron squares that were manufactured specifically to hold wine bottles.



National Museum of African American History and Culture


Last summer I attended my archaeological field school in Orange, Virginia at James Madison’s Montpelier. While there we worked on the enslaved quarters area of the yard right next to ‘the big house’, as many plantation main houses are referred to. Being able to be apart of a great organization that truly honors the African American past of the property in addition to the contributions made byMadison’s  was a phenomenal experience. While I was in Virginia, I took a day trip to see the museums on the mall. The National Museum of African American History and Culture was still in the process of being built, but the exterior was already progressing. Just knowing that this building and museum was so well thought out and that all three principal architects were African American really conveys this buildings importance.


Besides the cultural significance, the building and the interiors, from what I’ve seen in pictures and video are phenomenal. According to the website for the museum, “the architects have synthesized a variety of distinctive elements from Africa and the Americas into the building’s design and structure.” It is also very impressive that this museum will be the first Smithsonian museum that will be LEED Gold certified.


Not only is this a great architectural space, one of the architect’s, Adjaye Associates, designed a few furniture pieces for the furniture giant Knoll that were inspired by the museums architecture. Called the Washington Collection, it consists of a chair and coffee table.


Earth Lodge

Another meaningful piece of architecture to me is the Earth Lodge that is located within the Ocmulgee National Monument Park in Macon, Georgia (where I am originally from).


When I was a child, we would visit the park either through the school or personally about once a year. When you leave the museum and walk up the trail to the actual sites, it is always an amazing view.


Believed to be a council chamber, it had what is believed to be a political and religious significance. The tribe that occupied the area was the Creek’s. They are now located in Okmulgee, Oklahoma.


The above ground components were destroyed and reconstructed, but the original floor has been carbon dated to approximately 1,000 AD.


The interior consisted of 4 huge main posts with log rafters that created a cone shape which was then covered by dirt and the inside walls plastered with a daub and wattle type construction.



As a fun, non-architectural side note, there is some archaeoastronomy associated with the site. The entrance axis is located East-West but the opening does NOT correspond with any of the equinoxes. There is speculation that they do line up with a particular meteor shower called the Taurid.


Tribune Tower


One of my all-time favorite and fun buildings is the Tribune Tower in Chicago. On my very first trip to Chicago, I decided to walk on Michigan Avenue, the shopping capital of the United States (and if it’s not, it’s pretty high up on that list). The building is located very close to the Chicago River and is a multi-faceted neo-gothic or gothic revival building. I wasn’t actually focused on the building in particular when I walked by because there is so much to look at, but when I came to the more smoothed section of the building, I started noticing odd bits and pieces sticking out randomly on the facade.


After getting up close and reading, I realized that there were a lot (150 to be exact) pieces of other buildings or parts of history that had been integrated into the building.



The architecture of the building included a piece of other great architecture from all over the world.  You literally have to walk around 3/4 of the building to see all the pieces because they are scattered in random places.


The most heart breaking piece was a piece of steel from the World Trade Center after it was attacked in 2001.



I know most of you were small when this happened, and I was probably about the age most of you are now, but I was married with a child by this time and it was one of the most unnerving times of my life. Being able to see that artifact of the building, knowing I would probably never get to actually go to New York, meant (and still means) so much to me.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park

I was lucky enough to have to go to Chicago on a work/furniture related trip and was able to go on the Frank Lloyd Wright’s Oak Park tour.



The first location on the tour was FLW’s Home and Studio. When I walked in it was literally breathtaking! There was so many details to see down to the furniture (that he made specifically for the homes he designed and built).



We walked the neighborhood to look at various houses he had designed. Most were obviously done by FLW, but there were a few that were not so obvious. I took a ton of pictures, but I went on the tour in 2006, so they are not readily accessible. All of the picture in this post came from the FLW Trust website.


The last place we visited was Unity Temple and it is awe-inspiring. This has to be one of the most beautiful and timeless religious space in the world. And if not, there are only a few that can beat it. Again the simple lines, craftsmanship, and details are exquisite! No one does details like FLW!