Conservation
Conservation
Conservation

Tiffany opulence returns to Park Avenue Armory

Veterans Room, a jewel of the eclectic 19th-century American Aesthetic movement, reopens after $8.3m Herzog & de Meuron-led restoration

by Victoria Stapley-Brown  |  6 March 2016
Tiffany opulence returns to Park Avenue Armory
Restorers replace a Tiffany window in the Veterans Room. Photo James Ewing
The Veterans Room in New York’s Park Avenue Armory, a jewel of the eclectic 19th-century American Aesthetic movement, is due to reopen this month after an $8.3m restoration led by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron. It is the latest chapter in an ongoing $210m renovation, launched in 2007, of the Gothic Revival building, which opened in 1880 as the training headquarters and social club of the upper-crust 7th New York Militia Regiment.

The space is an early commission and “probably [the] finest extant example” of an interior by the Associated Artists group, led by a young Louis Comfort Tiffany, says Rebecca Robertson, the Armory’s president and executive producer. “These young designers, just starting out and just letting loose, are so evident in the room,” she says. “You can feel it… it’s a room that really lives.” Tiffany was responsible for the room’s overall design—which includes Greek, Moorish, Persian, Japanese and Celtic influences—and the glass elements, but it was a collaborative effort with the artist Samuel Colman, the pioneering textile designer Candace Wheeler and the architect Stanford White, who was then only 27 years old.

  • Restorers replace a Tiffany window in the Veterans Room. Photo James Ewing
  • A detail of the fully restored Veterans Room. Photo James Ewing
  • A detail of the fully restored Veterans Room. Photo James Ewing
  • The Veterans Room when it first opened in 1881. Photo courtesy Park Avenue Armory
Missing originals

Although the room retains many of its original features, including woodwork, metalwork and art objects, it was poorly restored and is missing some original finishes and textiles. The team had few contemporary photographs for reference, so they turned to written sources, including the regiment’s own gazette, and reviews in publications such as Scribner’s Magazine, to reinstate lost details such as the original yellow and silver-patterned ceiling. The original ironwork gaslight fittings are now lit by LEDs, projected through glass, to give off a period glow.

Soundproofing and a speaker system are among the improvements to the room, which will be used for various cultural events, including the Artists Studio performance series, a cross-genre programme that is due to open the space on 7 March and run throughout 2016. Participating artists and musicians include Ryan Trecartin, Lizzie Fitch and Camille Norment.

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