Designed by renowned Grizform Design Architects, Radiator Cocktail Bar can be found just adjacent to Washington, D.C.’s Kimpton Mason & Rook Hotel. The name and concept of Radiator was born from a desire to pay homage to the automotive past of the restaurant’s home on 14th Street. In the 1950s, this stretch of road was home to multiple auto repair shops and car dealerships. Radiator replicates the interior feel of a vintage vehicle. Intricate details—ranging from hurricane lamps in the front room that are reminiscent of vintage headlights to piston-shaped beer tap handles found at the bar—not only bring the space to life, but also make guests feel at home and comfortable. “The bar resembles the inside, passenger portion of a car. I think a lot of design lately sort of harkens back to that industrial, rough, rustic look, and that’s one thing we are really pushing to get away from with Radiator,” says Griz Dwight, principal and founder of GrizForm Design Architects. “Here you’ve got that detailing, the comfort, that sense that there is something else going on, but this is more the guy who’s driving the car and not the guy who’s fixing the car.”
A variety of light fixtures add to the Radiator’s ambience. Multifaceted glass globes hang over booths, the dining room features an antiqued mirror fixture that glows from its top, and the outside patio is adorned with orb string lights and basket light fixtures suspended above the tables. “You want to get that romantic glow, and this is a place that has many ways to achieve that,” adds Dwight.
The golden brown and creamy white birdhouses that line the walls of the bar’s inside and outside patio are a whimsical addition to the space. “We like to put quirky, fun things that make people smile and add a layer of interest,” says Dwight. “It started with this concept of music, and then you can follow that thread from music to birds singing to birdhouses.”
Sound of Silence
The engineered cork flooring was installed in a checkerboard pattern. “One thing that’s always a potential problem in restaurants is the noise,” explains Dwight. “The cork is actually quite sound absorbing, and is able to keep the level of noise down within the space.”