Today's edition features one of Romania's prominent architects of the early 20th century.
Born in Romania into a French family who were the owners of a building company, architect Ernest Doneaud continued the building tradition of his forerunners and constructed in Bucharest several buildings that are now real landmarks of the city. Lido Hotel is one of them alongside the National Military Centre whose interior was designed by Doneaud. Ernest Doneaud became a Romanian citizen upon his return from studies abroad. His professional trajectory is similar to that of many other architects. Born in Bucharest on May 22nd 1879, Ernest Doneaud went to primary school in Bucharest. Later he went to Paris where he trained in the workshop of professor Edmond Paulin. What followed was predictable for a young, talented man interested in architecture who was in Paris, as art historian Oana Marinache tells us next:
“He entered the Belle Arte School, the Architecture Department, and in 1907 he became an architect-diplomat of the French government. We can identify at least two stages in his career. The first starts with his being employed by the City Hall where he developed activities for the public service. In this stage, preceding WWI, he adopted an eclectic style. The influence of the French school can be identified also in the buildings he designed in Bucharest. Of course, his style was also influenced by the taste of those who order him the construction of various buildings. In that period his style was close to that of architect Ion D. Berindey. Then, during the war, he worked within the War Ministry. Doneaud was hired to make barracks and warehouses for the Romanian soldiers in Barlad. Then, in the interwar period, his style changed, being influenced by the international style or the cubist-modernist one. Also the new buildings were embellished with Art-Deco elements. For instance, the building of the Lido Hotel is a landmark for Doneaud’s style, being also representative for the Art-Deco style. The building’s fame is also given by its location on one of Bucharest’s main boulevards: Magheru. The hotel has suffered various transformations. Initially it was designed by Doneaud, then the beneficiary made some changes that were not provided for in the architect’s blueprints such as the swimming pool and the extensions on the adjacent street. Eventually the fame of the compound was due to the wave pool and the fashionable life led by those frequenting the place”.
Ernest Doneaud didn’t activate in Bucharest alone. Some of the majestic hotels in the spas of Govora and Calimanesti have also been designed by him. Doneaud’s name is not linked only to lofty buildings, be they public or private, but also to the planning of the first neighbourhoods of social dwellings in Bucharest. Apart from town planning, the architect also designed and made the blueprints for the houses destined for the proletariat and petty civil servants in Bucharest. Ernest Doneaud carried out those activities when he was an employee of the City Hall, as Oana Marinache tells us.
“Besides his activity as an architect, I would like to mention his efforts within the Town Planning Service of Romania’s capital city. He was one of the architects who had a significant contribution to the city planning of Bucharest. First of all, he was a member of the town planning committee, then he joined the Technical Service Committee with the Public Works Ministry. Therefore, his works, both public and private, earned him a well deserved place in the history of Romanian architecture.”
Ernest Doneaud withdrew from public life as an architect in the mid 1940s and died in 1959, without being a direct victim of the communist regime. In exchange, his son, Andre, who was very young when communism was instated in Romania, was arrested and sentenced to prison two times. Eventually, Andre Doneaud emigrated to the US, where he became a renowned physicist and meteorologist.