My interest in House of Cards has been reinvigorated by the plot twists in season four. This season, like last season, Frank Underwood is the President, so he and Claire still live in the White House. Even though the sets are the same as last year, now I care enough to write about them.
Let's take a closer look at this sitting room:
My first thought was, where is this room in the White House? We have all seen pictures of the front and back of the White House, and have never seen a window of this shape. And secondly, why does it looks like Paris is outside?
Well, luckily the internet exists, and I was able to figure out that this is meant to be the west sitting room. There is an identical window on the east side of the building.
Now let's address the Parisian question:
The west sitting room faces a ginormous building called the Eisenhower Executive Office Building (formerly known as the Old Executive Office Building), and it is breathtaking.
This building was built between 1871 and 1888, which is just a few years after Haussmann's architecture reinvented the look of Paris. The building contains more presidential offices as well as the office of the Vice President.
House of Cards is not filmed in the White House (am I blowing your mind?), so this view is recreated on a sound stage using a translight image of the Eisenhower Building. This means a massive photograph of the building was printed, taking into account the viewer's perspective from the west sitting room, and hung outside the set.
I'm not quite as lighting savvy, so I'm not sure if the translight needs to be swapped out for nighttime scenes, or if lighting an be rigged to accommodate different times of day.
Curiosity satisfied, this should be the end of the post, but then I thought, what if I added the word "interior" to my google search of the Eisenhower Building, and HOLY HELL!!!!!!!
Per wiki: Much of the interior was designed by Richard von Ezdorf using fireproof cast-iron structural and decorative elements, including massive skylights above each of the major stairwells and doorknobs with cast patterns indicating which of the original three occupying departments (State, Navy, or War) occupied a particular space.
In conclusion, I get why Claire would want to sit and look out the window.