Sunday, November 22, 2015

Casablanca's Lincoln Hotel May Be Saved

The Lincoln Hotel, architectural jewel of Casablanca, may finally be restored after being abandoned for several years and threatening to collapse

Built in 1917 by the French architect Hubert Bride, the Lincoln hotel is a symbol of Casablanca's past. The Arabesque Art Deco building has had a colourful history, including housing American spies during World War II when it was the headquarters for the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), a United States intelligence agency formed during World War II.

Located on Boulevard Mohammed V, in the heart of downtown Casablanca, the hotel stood out for its neo-Moorish style and its carved wooden lintels.

Over time the hotel suffered from neglect; its facade blackened. One of its terraces collapsed in 1989, causing two deaths. After the accident the hotel closed down and the building was abandoned. The landowner, restricted from demolishing the building legally, allowed squatters to occupy the hotel in hopes that the infrastructure would not hold up to their occupation and the building might disintegrate naturally. A further death occurred in 2004 and in February this year (2015) another collapse caused the death of one man and injuries to two more.

Although having been abandoned for more than two decades, there has been constant calls for its preservation and restoration, especially from the conservation group, the Casamémoire Association. Architectural activists, city authorities and the Ministry of Culture prevented the destruction of the façade, and the site was named a National Historic Landmark which ensured that the landowner could not tear down the building.

Now the city authorities have launched a call for expressions of interest for the redevelopment and renovation of the hotel.

According to the announcement by the Urban Commune of Casablanca, the project includes the renovation of the hotel on an area of ​​2,500 m2 and which must safeguard its authentic architectural style. Investors and developers have been called to submit tenders for the project.

If the plan succeeds, a faded architectural gem will rise from the rubble.

To see more about the Casamémoire Association, CLICK HERE. 

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