BANGKOK — Artists with a passion for the city gathered at the Dusit Thani Hotel on Sunday to commit its unique example of Thai modernism to their canvases Sunday before it is razed.

Some gathered across the street at Lumphini Park to get a good view, while others lounged around the terraced waterfall and sprawling plumeria tree in the hotel’s Benjarong Terrace. Still, others ascended to the hotel’s 22nd floor skybar to ruminate nostalgically about the hotel’s golden years in the 1970s and sketch the skyline.

“You can’t always keep old things but you can draw them,” said Pitirat Yoswattana, a 38-year-old member of Bangkok Sketchers. “We want to record parts of the city that are disappearing that we think are important, such as the Pom Mahakan community.”

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After 48 years, the iconic hotel will close in March for demolition and remaking into a mixed-use property offering condos, shopping, green space and a new hotel. The hotel will reopen in 2022, according to Sukanya Janchoo, Dusit Thani general manager.

Once the tallest building in Thailand, the Dusit Thani has received foreign dignitaries and celebrities such as Margaret Thatcher, Frances Yip and Johnny Tillotson since its 1970 opening.

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Pitirat Yoswattana, 38.

“At that time Bangkok had few hotels and discotheques, and we had one of the first luxury ones,” Sukanya said. “I’m glad the sketchers are here to relive their memory of this place.”

The artists there Sunday ranged from their early 20s to late 70s. They gather monthly to sketch various landmarks around the capital.

Pitirat said all are welcome to the events organized via Facebook.

“We’re a group that draws for happiness. You don’t need to be an artist with technical skills to join,” she said.

Puchnong Saksureemongkol, 62, said the hotel’s impending demolition was a pity. “I’m worried it won’t be the same afterward.”
“When this place was just built, it was something that was new and awesome in Bangkok,” Decha Charoenchai, 66, said. “You can see the greenness of Lumphini Park from here. Although most of the skyline has changed, the spirit is still the same. When I’m emotionally bound to a place in Bangkok, it becomes important to me.”
“This hotel has always been a symbol of Bangkok to me. In Thairat cartoons of Bangkok, this would be part of the drawings,” Rangsan Nilprapa, 51, native of Phayao province said. “I’ve never had the courage to come in here before, since it’s a fancy hotel for rich people. Even today, I didn’t want to park in the hotel. I’m happy that at least once I get to come inside.”
“This hotel is really important to my parents’ generation. I’ve only been here for a wedding or two, but I’ve checked in since last night so I can see what the hotel is really like,” said Kwin Krisadaphong, 40. “I’m glad the older people in our sketching group will get to draw it.”
Muangmol Srithongthai, at center, said that the Dusit Thani reminds him of his days as an architecture student. “That was 20, 30 years ago. I would come draw here when I was a student. Even when I was drawing today, the building made me feel like a student again,” said the art teacher from Lampang province. “The building has be be improved; it makes commercial sense. But it will live on in photos, drawings and our memories.”
A Bangkok Sketchers member squats down to paint the Benjarong Terrace.
Two young Bangkok Sketchers laugh as they ink the colors of the waterfall inside the Dusit Thani Hotel.

Tamra Chatikanon, 25, and his watercolors of the Dusit Thani Hotel’s Benjarong Terrace and skyline.
Yok Soonthornyankit, 38, displays his watercolor painting.

Members of Bangkok Sketchers show off their sketches of the waterfall and pagoda inside Bangkok’s Dusit Thani Hotel.

Bangkok Sketchers lay out their sketches of the Dusit Thani Hotel on Sunday.
Bangkok Sketchers pose Sunday outside the Dusit Thani Hotel to show off their drawings of the hotel’s facade.

Sketchers diligently eke out the Bangkok skyline from the hotel’s 22nd floor bar.
Some of the paintings by Bangkok Sketchers Sunday of Dusit Thani Hotel.
Bangkok Sketchers and their paintings Sunday.


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