Annabel Jane Wharton: Building the Cold War Hilton International Hotels and Modern Architecture



Laimed that these hotels were constructed for profit and for political impact an integral part of my dream was to show the countries most xposed to Communism the other side of the coin the fruits of the free world Exploring Evolution As Entropy everything the carefully drafted contracts for the buildings to the remarkable visual and social impact on their host cities Wharton offers a theoretically sophisticated critiue of one of the Cold War's first international businesses and demonstrates that the Hilton's role in the struggle against Communism was as Conrad Hilton declared significant though in ways that he could not have imaginedMany of these postwar Hiltons still flourish Those who stay in them will learn a great deal about theirxperience from this new assessment of hotel spa.

In postwar Europe and the Middle East Hilton hotels were uite literally little Americas For American businessmen and tourists a Hilton Hotel with the comfortable familiarity of an English speaking staff a restaurant that served cheeseburgers and milkshakes trans Atlantic telephone lines and most important air conditioned modernity offered a respite from the disturbingly alien For impoverished local populations these same features lent the Hilton a utopian aura The Hilton was a space of luxury and desire a space that realized permanently and prominently the new and powerful presence of the United States Building the Cold War xamines the architectural means by which the Hilton was written into the urban topographies of the major cities of Europe and the Middle Eas.

T as an ffective representation of the United States Between 1953 and 1966 Hilton International built sixteen luxury hotels abroad Often the Hilton was the first significant modern structure in the host city as well as its finest hotel The Hiltons introduced a striking visual contrast to the traditional architectural forms of such cities as Istanbul Cairo Athens and Jerusalem where the impact of its new architecture was amplified by the hotel's unprecedented siting and scale Even in cities familiar with the Modern the new Hilton often dominated the urban landscape with its height changing the look of the city The London Hilton on Park Lane for xample was the first structure in London that was higher than St Paul's cathedralIn his autobiography Conrad N Hilton

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