On the site he designed, the life of Palm Beach architect John Volk is honored by “The Volk Walk”

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From left, Katie Jacob, director of programming at the Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, discusses the Volk Walk on Thursday with Royal Poinciana Plaza marketing director Dana Filetti, center, and Lori Berg, general manager of the plaza .
From left, Katie Jacob, director of programming at the Preservation Foundation in Palm Beach, speaks Thursday during the Volk Walk with Marie Penny, director of the foundation's archives.
Dana Filetti, left, marketing director of the Royal Poinciana Plaza, and Lori Berg, general manager of the plaza, look at some of the photos from the exhibit.
White Gables, architect John Volk's first home designed in the Bermuda style, is featured in the exhibit.
A reconstruction of John Volk's Bamboo Room is part of the exhibition.
A Georgian Revival structure called Windsong designed by John Volk is featured at one of the stops.

Along the walkways of Royal Poinciana Plaza, shoppers can take a “walk” down memory lane to learn about the man who designed the plaza and other iconic Palm Beach landmarks.

The Preservation Foundation of Palm Beach, in conjunction with the Royal Poinciana Plaza, used John Volk’s outdoor space design to create The Volk Walk, an interactive exhibit that celebrates his life and features his greatest works, such as the plaza he designed in 1958 and the soon-to-be-renovated Royal Poinciana Playhouse.

Featuring his architectural drawings and images of four iconic homes that still exist, a recreation of his Bamboo Room that serves as an interactive selfie wall, and information about his life and other projects, The Volk Walk is organized by the Preservation Foundation and brought to life by production and design agency Globadyne.

Until March 31, shoppers, residents, and visitors can explore the exhibit during normal square hours.

Using its archives to organize an exhibition is a first for the foundation, said Katie Jacob, director of programming.

She hopes visitors will gain a better understanding of Palm Beach and its structures and find information about the facilities more accessible than in the foundation’s traditional gallery.

“It’s so important to remind people where the buildings come from, where the development comes from, because it gives them a sense of place and gives them a sense of belonging to this space,” she said. declared. “When we reactivate these spaces by reminding people of the past, it actually gives them a better connection and more hope that they want to be in the community in the future.”

American businessman John S. Phipps commissioned Volk to design the plaza in the style he wanted, as long as it would last for 50 years. Visitors can see the plaza’s original concept art and follow Volk’s thought process.

Sixty-four years later, the square is still a great commercial space, said general manager Lori Berg. “It’s still there and thriving,” she said.

Those who walk through the exhibit will see a life-size rendering of the original entrance to the performance hall and can take a closer look at Volk’s vision.

Just west of the plaza and south of the Flagler Memorial Bridge is the Playhouse, which sat vacant for two decades. It is expected to undergo a restoration and refit this summer, Berg said.

“Our goal was to keep it as close to Volk’s image as possible,” Berg said. “We won’t change anything that is historic or valuable to Volk’s image.” This includes a Renaissance-style mural in the structure’s Hall of Fame.

The performance hall, which was once a forum for Palm Beach celebrities and socialites, will feature a 400-seat theater, host orchestras and ballets, and become the island’s only waterfront restaurant. after renovations.

“It’s very exciting. It’s a great moment in Palm Beach history,” said Berg, who went on to say that the renovation will keep Volk’s legacy fresh.

“It’s amazing because we’re keeping history alive. We’re bringing him back to life. That’s what we did with that. We’re very sensitive to everything he’s done, and to protect him.”

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, Volk designed a series of homes inspired by his travels and other buildings that still exist on the island today. It’s rare that someone walks through a neighborhood in Palm Beach without passing a home designed or inspired by Volk, Jacob said.

“There are so many different styles. He’s not just known for one key style or trait,” said Marie Penny, director of the foundation’s archives. People can tell it’s a Volk by “the beauty of the design, its clarity, a certain stature. You feel like it was designed by Volk.”

As part of the exhibit, a replica of Volk’s Bamboo Room is on display along with images that inspired his designs. The room uses furniture provided by antique dealer Show Pony Palm Beach and displays several of his personal travel photos from Spain, Italy, the Bahamas, Hawaii and Egypt.

Volk was also inspired by the architects who helped make Palm Beach what it is today. He was considered one of the “Big Five,” along with Addison Mizner, Marion Sims Wyeth, Maurice Fatio and Howard Major, who brought architecture to the city in the early 20th century, Jacob said.

“These five have really been integral to the development of Palm Beach and what it looks like today,” she said.

Died at an early age, Mizner (aged 60) and Fatio (died in his 40s) weren’t able to develop as many different architectural styles throughout the city as Volk and Wyeth did, Jacob said.

“They had the opportunity to evolve with time and architectural styles,” Jacob said.

By the time Volk died in 1984, he had designed more than 2,000 projects during his 60 years of architectural practice. His legacy was kept alive through the works of his wife Jane, who was a historical curator.

“One of the foundation’s goals is for people to be proud of their community. You can keep something historic, but we have to remember to modernize it, make it livable and lovable today,” Jacob said.

“It’s not about keeping things in a glass bubble. It’s about keeping the design of the community intact for future generations. Everyone should be able to enjoy it. »

To schedule a guided tour of the Volk Walk, contact the Royal Poinciana Plaza at 561-440-5441 or the Preservation Foundation at 561-832-0731.

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@rachida_harper

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