This is Part 2 of 2 of my discussion with architect Julia F. Martin AIA, LEED AP about the design of the new Westendorff restaurant. In Part 1 Mrs. Martin discussed the project's rocky start in 2010, and how the project almost didn't happen.
Luckily in 2013, the project came back to life and a pretty amazing transformation began.
Steve Ramos: What were some of your inspirations and design goals for the project?
Julia F. Martin: I wanted to celebrate the history of this building. And the fact that there was this family that built it and lived here. And are still around. I really liked that local thread. It was still there so I have always been pushing to keep that visible. Like the Westendorff sign. And whatever photographs we could hold from their family collection. Which there weren't very many.
Julia F. Martin: These things were very important to me. To bring that in. Not to just let it be another very cool, could be in Brooklyn restaurant. Which there are many and they are lovely. But I was hoping that this would have some sort of connection to what it was.
Steve Ramos: I feel like there is a deco theme here?
Julia F. Martin: Sure. There is a subtle nod to the period of the buildings birth.
Steve Ramos: So who are the Westendorffs?
Julia F. Martin: The Westendorffs were the family that built the building in 1916. They owned the hardware store on the ground floor and lived on the upper floors. Jamie Westendorff is a local philathropist and co-owner with Steven Niketas.
Charleston Magazine did a great story on Jamie Westendorff: Giving Back Profiles: Creative Talent Jamie Westendorff
Steve Ramos: What are some design features that you are very proud of?
Julia F. Martin: The paint and the stucco. The building had 15 coats of paint on the first floor. Because it kept getting graffiti'd and the owners for decades just kept painting over it. And when we got here it was this light neutral paint up to the 2nd floor. So they started taking the paint off and after multiple rounds of paint removal they sort of landed on this signage. It seemed like a miracle to me. They were able to archealogically find the signage. I had seen the old pictures but I thought that there was no way that they would be able to unearth the singage. But they did. It has been enhanced by an artist but it is not made up. It was really there because this was a hardware store.
Steve Ramos: That is awesome. What are some other things people should be on the look out for?
Julia F. Martin: I'm really happy with the exterior in general. The cornice around the entry. The shutters. I'm really glad that we added those. The signage is really nice. All of it. The one that wraps around the corner and the big vertical one on the side.
Julia F. Martin: The bar. Steven's concept from the beginning was to have some sort of counter height bar. It is kind of unusual. It sort of hearkens back to a diner type feel. That is a little different, but I think people are really liking it.
Steve Ramos: Yeah..it's different. You feel like you are sitting at a bar, but not quite.
Julia F. Martin: Yeah...it's like a family friendly bar.
Steve Ramos: Sometimes when you are sitting at a bar you feel like your back is to everyone and this works better because it feels more communal.
A special thanks to Julia F. Martin for being the guinea pig in my first interview! Also happy to have a new Archi-Buddy.
And how about the food?
Oh yeah...the food. I guess some people will go the Westendorff for something other than the rad design. I had the spareribs, D had the fish. And we shared the mac n' cheese. I am no food critic so alls I can say is that the food kicked ass.
Well done, Team Westendorff!
Steve Ramos AIA, LEED AP