Illustrated Architecture Dictionary


Peacock Alley is a fitting name for the main hallway in The Hotel Lafayette. This  long expanse is decorated with a marble-like material known as scagliola. The scagliola was uncovered as the crews ripped away plaster, paint and other material coating the walls.  To most people, the walls look like marble. This is the beauty of scagliola.

Scagliola is a  material cast in slabs and installed like marble. It has a cement backing and the top layer is a pigmented plaster. Patterns, veining and other details can be carved or painted into the surface.  It is then polished and sealed.

The Scagliola technique came into fashion around the 17th century as an effective substitute for costly marble inlays. It was also used for tables, columns, sculptures and other architectural elements. In the 19th century it was used in many buildings throughout the United States including Belcourt Castle in Newport, RI and Shea’s Performing Arts Center in Buffalo, NY.

Scagliola is often thought to be marble because it looks like marble and is cold to the touch.

Examples from Buffalo:

Photos and their arrangement 2012 Chuck LaChiusa
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