The Rom and The Piano

ROM CRYSTAL napkin sketch

On june 2, 2007 The official opening of the ROM extension was celebrated. The what extension? The Michael Lee-Chin Crystal. Who’s Crystal?

Okay okay I’ll try to explain.

The ROM is not Read Only Memory, but the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada. The Piano is not Renzo Piano, but a real piano (see below). The ROM extension is a new building designed by Polish born, USA raised and Berlin Based Architect Daniel Libeskind who is also responsible for rebuilding Ground Zero.

Inspired by the ROM’s gem and mineral collection, architect Daniel Libeskind sketched the initial concept on paper napkins while attending a family wedding at the ROM. The design was quickly dubbed the ‘crystal’ because of its crystalline shape.

“Why should one expect the new addition to the ROM to be ‘business as usual’? Architecture in our time is no longer an introvert’s business. On the contrary, the creation of communicative, stunning and unexpected architecture signals a bold re-awakening of the civic life of the museum and the city.”

– Daniel Libeskind


Michael Lee-Chin is a Canadian businessman who donated $ 30 mio to the ROM and hence the new building got his name.
The Piano
Via The Globe and The Mail I learned that Liebeskind, whose first vocation was to become a virtuoso pianist designed a Grand Piano.

The idea for the piano arose in 2002, when Toronto piano dealer Robert Lowrey arranged a meeting between Libeskind and Nicholas Schimmel, head of Schimmel Pianos, one of the few remaining companies to make pianos mostly by hand. Libeskind had initially wanted to be a concert pianist, Lowery said, and Schimmel has already produced instruments with designs by the likes of German artist Ottmar Alt.
‘It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,’ piano dealer Robert Lowrey says.

Libeskind Limited Edition Piano
Rendering by Studio Daniel Libeskind

Three 16-foot-long (five-metre) specialty models will be made, as well as a small number of seven-foot (two-metre) grands based on the same design.

Libeskind designed only the exterior case; the interior works will be essentially the same as in a normal grand.

“It’s a piano to be played, but also to be admired as a piece of architecture,” Lowrey said.

Like the Crystal, the Libeskind piano poses stiff engineering challenges. The enormously long lid, for instance, must be light enough to be raised by an ordinary person, and strong enough not to warp or bend. Lowery said Schimmel is experimenting with titanium as a material for the cabinet. The case for Schimmel’s playful Alt piano, which looks like a gigantic child’s toy, employed steel, glass and fibreglass.

“It’s taking longer to make this piano than to build the Crystal,” Lowrey said.

Thorsell said he expected the piano to emerge from Schimmel’s factory next year. But the head of Schimmel’s American office, to whom the German office referred questions, said he had “no idea” when the piano might be completed.

Lowrey said Schimmel hopes that the publicity value of the large instruments will help sales of the limited-edition models, which will probably number fewer than 120. One of the other long models may be displayed near the ground zero site in Manhattan, he said.

I wonder whether this will revive the classical piano.

Munich: The Charles, Rocco Forte's third German Hotel to open October 4, 2007

The Charles Hotel

From the Press Release:

The Rocco Forte Collection is delighted to announce that its Munich property will open on 4 October 2007. It will be called The Charles Hotel, in honor of Sir Rocco Forte’s father, renowned hotelier Lord Charles Forte.

The Charles Hotel is The Rocco Forte Collection’s third German property, joining Hotel de Rome in Berlin (which opened in October 2006) and Villa Kennedy in Frankfurt (which opened in March 2006), and confirms The Rocco Forte Collection as the key player in the luxury hotel market in Germany.

Located in the heart of the Bavarian city of Munich, guests of The Charles Hotel will be guaranteed a peaceful stay with great views over the area known as Lenbach Gärten (which lies on the edge of the Botanical Gardens). Ideal for business and leisure travelers, the hotel is within walking distance of the commercial district, popular shopping areas and entertainment facilities. It is also well located for transport links, being close to the city’s main train station, The Hauptbahnhof, with the Franz Josef Strauss airport lying just 28 km northeast of Munich.

A stylish new-build, The Charles Hotel is set to significantly raise the standard of visitor accommodation in Munich. The design has been overseen by The Rocco Forte Collection’s Director of Design, Olga Polizzi, and – as with all the other properties in the Collection – will have its own personality that reflects its location.

For example, there will be Bavarian limestone on the floors, ceramic artwork from Nymphenburg porcelain in the bathrooms and original paintings by Munich’s celebrated 19th century portrait artist Franz von Lenbach in the bedrooms, alongside works by contemporary artists living and working in and around Munich.

The eight-story, Euros 71.5 million hotel will have 132 40-square-meters rooms, nine Junior Suites (measuring 48 square meters each), 18 Master Suites (70 square meters) and a Presidential Suite (100 square meters). Located on the eighth floor, the stunning Presidential Suite boasts a large terrace with breathtaking views over the city and can be combined with a further three suites, creating an entire private floor of 455 square meters. Virtually all the rooms have views over the Botanical Gardens.

The hotel also comprises an Italian restaurant with floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Botanical Gardens, a terrace for outdoors dining in the summer months and a private dining room; a bar; seven conference rooms equipped with state-of-the-art technology and all benefiting from natural light; a ballroom accommodating up to 400 guests for a drinks reception; and a large spa with sauna, 15-meter swimming pool, five treatment rooms offering a range of wellness and beauty treatments and a gym with all the latest cardiovascular machinery.

Once in operation, The Charles Hotel will provide the same attention to detail, exceptional levels of comfort and personal service for which The Rocco Forte Collection has become so well known.

Shortcut: A City Blog about European cities

Shortcut logo

Today I discovered the nicely written Shortcut, A European City Blog with a nice lay out. It writes about 17 European cities.

It used to write about upcoming events, but nowadays in true web 2.0 style it links through to Yahoo’s Upcoming.

A pity Shortcut don’t feature The Hague.

Go enjoy yourself!

Added July 1, 2007
I changed the URL as they have moved to another provider.

Hotel Sonne, Offenburg, Germany

Hotel Sonne Offenburg Germany

I am back from the white slopes in Switzerland and time for a tip.

When we drive to Switzerland we frequently make a stopover at Hotel Sonne (the Sun Hotel) in the very center of Offenburg.

Offenburg is next to the Motorway (Autobahn) Frankfurt – Basel, between Baden Baden and Freiburg. It is also easy to reach from Strasbourg in France. They have a courtyard where you can park your car without the necessity to unload all your luggage.

Offenburg is a nice small town and a good basis for exploring the German Schwartz Wald (Black Forrest) or the French Elzas.

Hotel Sonne is first mentioned in 1376. So it is probably more than 630 years old. In any case it is run by the same family already since 1858. In 2008 they will celebrate their 150 years of operating the hotel!

In the two very old townhouses is the “Old Wing”. Next to and behind the courtyard is the “New Wing”. We prefer the Old wing, because of its character, its beautiful wooden stairs and antique furniture and because the bathrooms of most rooms have been redecorated more recently. Room 31 still needs redecorating and we rather avoid, because of the squeaking of the floorboards and the antique bed.

Dad and mum of over 80 of the present owner Gabi are still helping out. I admire the fact that both even can handle their computerized reservation system.

Gabi’s husband Horst operates their excellent restaurant.

Largest Cylindrical Hotel Aquarium in Berlin

The Fish tank in the Berlin Radisson Blu hotel

It is a bit strange, but this “news” appeared on 22 December on 4 Hoteliers and today at, but is actually a write-up of a press release from Lucite International dated January 2004. Now Who is Lucite? Lucite is the new company name for the Former Dupont-ICI joint venture that inter alia produces perspex.

Update: I’m using a photo in a later article to enhance this one.