Mondrian Making Its Way to Montclair’s Lorraine Avenue

This accessory building at 224 Lorraine Avenue is getting a makeover.

A Mondrian-inspired design created by John Guadagnoli for 224 Lorraine Avenue drew a favorable reaction when it was presented during a March 18 Montclair Historic Preservation Commission meeting.

The applicant, property owner Talib Hamid Al-Bayati, has plans to renovate the second floor of the existing two‐story accessory structure to be used as a new two‐bedroom apartment. New awning and casement windows are proposed at the second floor only. A new wood wrap‐around canopy is proposed to be installed on the southeast corner. The most noticeable change to anyone passing by would be to the building’s exterior, which will painted in a Piet Mondrian‐esque style.

Architect John Guadagnoli’s bold vision for a Mondrian-inspired paint job for the Lorraine AVenue property, along with windows and a canopy added to the residential apartment.

Commission member Caroline Kane Levy called the plan “very, very bold” and thought the Mondrian design would be cheerful facing the parking lot, but was concerned about the section that would be seen from the street,

Commission member Steve Rooney liked the addition of windows to the residential part of the structure and said the design was one way of enlivening the parking lot.

Member David Greenbaum called the cubist design for cubist building creative and liked the ambition and playfulness.

Member John Reimnitz had some words of caution, adding that Mondrian’s work was known for its sharp lines and clean edges.

“Good luck. It’s going to live or die based on how well it’s executed and what surfaces it’s being applied to,” Reimnitz said.

Montclair has been enlivened with more murals in Montclair Center. What do you think of bringing a touch of Mondrian to Upper Montclair?

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  1. Personally, I think it says Lego Mondrian. But, it is an ugly building to start with.

    I would request the retail door onto the parking macadam remain recessed.
    I would reject the cedar wood material for the canopy (the PB will likely reject the canopy itself).
    I would reject the orphan parapet wall extension on the North elevation.
    I would have an internal conversation about design standards for lots with two buildings and what relationship they should have.

  2. I like it, though Mondrian would agree that the design and colors would be more stylistically appropriate for the old Hampton House on Bloomfield and North Fullerton.

    Let’s call it “Lorraine Boogie Woogie”.

  3. I always liked the use of art to dress this building. Unfortunately, this design gave me repeated flashbacks to the late-20th century and Liz Claiborne’s Mondrian-inspired, tunic sweaters paired with black leggings. That late ’80’s look was sold for many, many seasons in suburbs from Buckhead, GA to Wellesley, MA. When executed right – 7gg intarsia in cotton – it offered a crisp look & a forgiving fit. When Liz did it wrong – 12gg double jacquard in wool – it was like a burlap sack. If could be the perfect bookend to Talbot’s in the Upper Montclair business district.

  4. Well then, I have every expectation the Planning Board will unanimously reject this application as it is relying on historic precedent.

    I love our Planning Board (How’s that parking deck working out for you?)

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