At Much, Much Bigger Joule, a Recording Studio, New Charlie Palmer, Underground Spa and, Finally, Return of Mercantile Mosaics

For close to two years we've written here and there (and there and there and ...) about Tim Headington's slow-but-sure downtown takeover via The Joule's expansion, which, we recently learned, is the reason the Praetorian and those other old buildings along Elm are being razed. And now we know, in part, for what.

To begin: 2,500 square feet added to the lobby ("anticipate an all-hours vibe somewhere between the allure of a library coffee bar and the mystique of a classic cocktail lounge"); 31 new guest rooms (including one single-story penthouse and two three-story penthouses, not to mention "a 4,000 square-foot rooftop terrace and garden that can accommodate 500 people"); a revamped PM Lounge that will include "a 600-square foot screening room with seating for 25 and a 1,350-square foot recording studio"; an "8,000 square-foot subterranean spa"; and a second Charlie Palmer eatery, this one featuring "certified Neapolitan pizzas, fresh-off-the-grill plates and handmade breads and pastries."

But for some Friends of Unfair Park, this may be the biggest, best part of the press release:

The Joule's art collection will also grow with the addition of historic mosaics from the original Mercantile National Bank Building. The mosaics, an important piece of Dallas history, were slated to be destroyed during that building's renovation, but were rescued by Joule-owner Tim Headington. Originally commissioned during the art deco period by former Dallas Mayor R.L. Thornton, the handmade mosaics were shipped from Venice and installed in the Mercantile National Bank Building. The mosaics, which depict the basic elements of nature -- earth, wind, fire and water -- range in size from only a few feet high to more than 20 feet. The works, restored by conservation specialist Michael van Enter, will be installed in The Joule's new VIP Corridor and ballroom pre-function space.

Here's a fascinating look at the mosaics being removed; look forward to seeing them restored, should I ever be allowed in the VIP Corridor, which is highly doubtful.

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