PaperCity Magazine

September 2014 - Houston

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Page 53 of 87

T he lush surrounds of the Hotel Granduca made for an apropos rendezvous with Giorgio Borlenghi, the majestic head of real estate development giant Interfin. His company has created some of Houston's most prominent residential high-rises, mixed-use retail spaces and hotels, including Hotel Granduca (and its new Austin incarnation, currently in the works). Borlenghi's deliberate determination and sophistication are echoed in the properties he builds, owns and manages — an attention to detail and demanding perfectionism. Enter Belfiore, his newest Houston project with partners Pierpoint Capital, The McNair Group and Hudson Brothers Real Estate Partnership. Situated at the intersection of Post Oak Lane and South Wynden Drive (just behind Hotel Granduca) the high-rise, will have 26 floors with just two spacious apartments per floor, beginning at a comfortable 4,650 square feet. Ceiling height is a lofty 11 feet, and each home has a private entry lobby. The exclusivity and quiet grandeur of the building are most readily apparent in the details — most notably, the decision to have common areas designed and decorated by David Linley's London-based interior design firm, Linley. As the son of Princess Margaret and photographic great Lord Snowdon, Linley grew up steeped in grandeur, with his childhood spent at Kensington Palace. He was prompted to eventually study and devote his life to fine woodworking, as well as the planning of interiors, after being shown an old and elaborate piece of cabinetry by his late grandmother, Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. His firm, founded in 1985, designs bespoke fine wood furniture and accessories that abide by the traditional methods of cabinetry making. A hallmark of such pieces is the impeccable quality of the materials, which are employed in dazzling examples of marquetry. Linley is also a full-scale interior design firm, its work historically referential yet totally aware of contemporary life. Projects have included suites at London's Claridge's hotel, The Goring Hotel's dining room and numerous residential commissions throughout the world. In addition, Viscount Linley serves as chairman of Christie's UK. Borlenghi began considering Linley at the suggestion of his partner in the project, Joseph Lopez, who lives in London. "NOT EVEN I HAVE EVER DONE AND LUXURIOUS." TWO BELFIORE MEN GIORGIO BORLENGHI IS THE ITALIAN EMINENCE BEHIND FOUR-LEAF TOWERS DESIGNED BY CESAR PELLI (1982), UPTOWN PARK (1999), VILLA D'ESTE (2000), MONTEBELLO (2004), HOTEL GRANDUCA (2006) AND NOW THE ULTRA-LUXE BELFIORE, THE LIKES OF WHICH HOUSTON HAS NEVER SEEN. THIS NEWEST RESIDENTIAL BUILDING IS IN FOR THE ROYAL TREATMENT NOW THAT THE NAMESAKE FIRM OF DAVID LINLEY — QUEEN ELIZABETH II'S NEPHEW — HAS BEEN ENGAGED TO IMAGINE ITS PUBLIC SPACES. SETH VAUGHAN REVEALS WHAT A VISCOUNT'S INVOLVEMENT IN THE WORLD OF HOUSTON REAL ESTATE LOOKS LIKE. The firm's residential work within London's Knightsbridge neighborhood eventually affirmed the decision to retain Linley's services for the design and decoration of Belfiore's public spaces. A trip last October to Linley's London offices by Borlenghi, his wife Cathy and Sarah Foster (Interfin's head of architecture) affirmed the decision. Alex Isaac, Linley's creative director, will oversee the design of both the lobby and a card room. For the lobby, a reception desk that features an altar-piece stone surround and the integration of gray ombre timber is being custom-made. The walls will echo the gradient ombre finishes to visually lift the already generous ceiling heights. The card room, conversely, will be a study in cosseted intimacy for specially designed games tables (outfitted so that one may play "a compendium of games, from backgammon to chess," Isaac notes), felt- topped fixed card tables surrounded by banquettes and lower coffee tables with inlaid chess boards for more relaxed gaming. The decision to utilize this ancillary common as a gaming room speaks to Borlenghi's resolve to derive maximum aesthetic value from Linley's involvement. After all, such a room plays to Linley's strengths: classical principles of beauty and proportion and the leisurely pastimes of ladies and gentlemen. The honors of creating the architecture went to the Kirksey architecture firm, with Rick Birkinshaw as design architect. Renderings offer us only a glimpse of what lies in store: a contemporary façade built of glass and champagne-colored aluminum that evokes a welcoming modernism. The upper reaches of the building, where its penthouses lie, are to be terraced in a "remarkable and totally innovative manner," Borlenghi hints. With ground already broken, a completion date of early 2016 seems likely. Commissioning a viscount and his team perhaps affords one a crowning glory — and this, we think, might be Borlenghi's. SOMETHING AS UNIQUE, EXCLUSIVE — Giorgio Borlenghi of his newest Houston project, Belfiore Giorgio Borlenghi at Hotel Granduca, Houston Rendering of Belfiore's terraced floors Alex Isaac, Linley's creative director David Linley Rendering of Belfiore's lobby Rendering of the 26-floor Belfiore Princess Margaret and Linley as a child

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