Wright’s vision for the auto showroom. Source: Metropolis Mag
In April of 2013, Frank Lloyd Wright’s auto showroom on 430 Park Avenue quietly disappeared and will soon be replaced by a TD Bank. The Hoffman Auto Showroom was home to the latest and greatest imported cars for nearly sixty years, but even more importantly, was one of the three remaining Wright design commissions in New York City (the other two being the Guggenheim Museum and Cass House on Staten Island).
The Park Avenue auto showroom was built in 1954 for luxury car importer Max Hoffman, a reoccurring client of Wright’s. The most well-known for his architectural commissions, Wright was also interested in the role of the car in design, as a reflection of its new place in society. He believed the freedom of movement provided by the automobile gave way to a freer culture and society.
With a combined fascination for the subject and enthusiasm for luxury cars, Wright embarked on several projects and proposals as a means to explore “an architecture expressive of the automobile and its movement through space.” He was particularly inspired by spiraled designs, incorporating them into his proposals for structures with ramps and roadways. (Fun fact: The Guggenheim Museum too, was originally designed with an automobile objective in mind). The Hoffman Auto Showroom contained a spiraling ramp for the display of cars, and a revolving turntable as well. These two design components were preserved when the showroom was renovated in 1982 and 2002.
The space of Wright’s former showroom as of today. It will soon become a TD Bank.
In June 2012, The Frank Lloyd Wright Building Conservancy learned that the current lease by a Mercedes Benz dealer in the show room would expire in December that year, and made efforts to attract another car company to the space. The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission had also evaluated the show room this past March and considered designating it as a landmark. But soon after, the building owners of 430 Park Avenue had contacted the Department of Buildings for a demolition permit on March 28, which was approved later that day. Frank Lloyd Wright’s auto showroom was a testament to the architect’s poetic treatment of space, and it is unfortunate that the space will be turned into a generic corporate bank interior.
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