Hotel George V
After 70 years of operation and numerous renovation campaigns, the Hotel George V had lost its soul and a large part of its substance. Its restoration, performed at the turn of the millennium (1999-2001), was symbolic in many respects, notably in its budget; it was, at that time, for a building of 33,000 square meters destined to house 235 rooms and suites, the largest known budget : 80 million euros.
The owner of the George V had this incredible intuition that it would be possible to realize a real palace in the urban fabric of Paris of such condition to restore the uniqueness and functionality of this jewel without hesitating to create an excessively luxurious place. Responsible for architecture and interior design, Richard Martinet and his team designed the project, which included the common areas and space planning, the decoration being entrusted to Pierre-Yves Rochon who realised the elements of style in coordination with AFFINE DESIGN. Beforehand, a historical study of George V permitted AFFINE DESIGN understand its origin. Born in the late 1920s before the Great Depression, the original project was entrusted to two architects, the American Wiboo and the French Lefranc, who built, together, this palace whose duality is tied to the references of their two cultures. The first, Wiboo, was deeply influenced by the luxury hotels of North America, the image of those of Chicago and New York whose architectural vocabulary reflected the new ways of life. This is evidenced by the public areas which contain a huge gallery, a dome, a large courtyard, large arches in the lobby and masterful windows on the ground floor. The second, Lefranc, was attached to the decorations of typically Parisian Art Deco style – the gate of the entrance and the carefully restored door of motifs -but also to the masterpieces of craftsmanship of the 1920s, such as the sculptured bas-reliefs and the medallions. Then, a reasoned inventory was carried out with the assistance of the Direction du Patrimoine and the conservator of private Parisian buildings, even though the building is only partially classified. This work of approach, realised with AFFINE DESIGN, listed and classified each element of the interior decor by importance, so that the restoration would not drift from the original spirit. For the shell itself, the ABF and of the Drac (Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs ) were requested to lend their kind assistance to develop a partition of three segments: exterior woodwork, restoration of facades, and interior spaces. This base established, it was decided to keep, for reference, the manifest historic Art Deco layer. As for the structure itself, AFFINE DESIGN decided to revive the original partition of the architects Lefranc and Wiboo, because of the quality of its design and of its perfectly dimensioned spaces, in which the program of the Four Seasons Group is well inscribed. However, an underpinning work was needed to house the pool, spa and a wine cellar, assets of excellence of the palace. And so followed the sensitive technical work of stabilising the basement, due to the very fact that the George V hotel is located on a former limestone quarry with impressive vaults. The renovation work took place along two axes: – Cleaning and clearing the building to regain its original aesthetic, and restoring everything that could be; in architecture, this included the facades and woodwork on the exterior, sculptures and medallions in the interior. – Once the original consistency had been found, then the work involved revisiting the major historical elements to integrate them in a contemporary scenario, and allow the George V to become a palace of the 21st century.