Monday, April 15, 2013

Hoffman Auto Showroom

The interior of the Hoffman Auto Showroom at 430 Park Avenue has been demolished. Designed as a showroom for luxury cars, it was one of three works by Frank Lloyd Wright in New York City--the Guggenheim and the Cass House on Staten Island remain.

Crain's reported:

"The end came suddenly and unexpectedly. On March 22, the Landmarks Preservation Commission called the owners of 430 Park Ave. to tell them the city was considering designating the Wright showroom—until January, the longtime home to Mercedes of Manhattan—as the city's 115th interior landmark. Three days later, the commission followed up with a letter. Both went unanswered.

Instead, on March 28, the building's owners, Midwood Investment & Management and Oestreicher Properties, reached out to another city agency, the Department of Buildings, requesting a demolition permit for the Wright showroom. The permit was approved the same day, sealing the showroom's fate.

By the following week, workers had arrived and removed every last trace of a space that some architectural historians say inspired Wright's most celebrated New York work, the Guggenheim Museum."

photo: Matt Chaban, Crain's

The showroom was commissioned by Austrian race-car driver and car dealer Maximilian Hoffman in 1953, and was meant as a showplace for Jaguar cars. Since 1957 it has shown Mercedes Benz. Included in his payment, Hoffman gave Wright a Mercedes Type 300 and a 300SL Gullwing.

In the 1980s, the showroom was covered in mirrors, but it retained the original Wright structure. The ramp remained. Eventually, the revolving turntable had broken down.

Mercedes left the space at the end of 2012. Wrote Core77 this past winter, "Whether it's an auto dealership or another type of business that takes the space over, with any luck the fact that it came out of Frank Lloyd Wright's pencil will stay any thoughts of doing a demo-and-reno. But it's New York, and you never know what will happen."

A reader notes: "Sign on the window: Coming Soon, TD Bank."


Michael Dominic said...


abrod said...

Odd, I was just thinking about Max Hoffman's dealings with Porsche the other day. Shame they destroyed that showroom.

Eggsactley said...

NYC learns nothing from it's past mistakes.

Anonymous said...

A city will not be judged by the buildings it constructs but by the ones they destroy...

randall said...

Terrible. How could you destroy a work of art by who is arguably America's most famous architect?

And who the hell works at TD Bank that they wouldn't want an original Frank Lloyd Wright as the crown jewel of their banking empire.

We, as a country, are going to get exactly what we deserve. America is lame.

JAZ said...

Just another absolutely disgusting story. If the incoming bank had been forced to preserve the revolving turntable, they probably woulda found the best way to destroy its remaining dignity.

A rotating Ipad charging station perhaps? Or maybe they would have just programmed it to shoot cupcakes at the waiting customers.

cityboy said...

I was the last member of the Frank lloyd Wright Building Conservancy to see inside the showroom in mid January 2013. The Mercedes dealership had moved out the week prior and a kind security guard allowed me access

these are photos i took of the interior

Ed said...

One unfortunate element of the otherwise excellent landmarks law is that when vandals get wind that a building is under consideration for landmark status, they rush to destroy it. We have lost a few buidlings because of that that might have been saved if they had remained ignored.

Its occured to me that if all automobile showrooms looked like this, or even just the high end ones, the loss of even a Frank Lloyd Wrighth showroom wouldn't be a big deal. But of course they don't. The reason the landmarks law has been a success is recently built buildings as almst always bad; hence the impossible demand in living in neighorhoods mostly built before the war, since that is the only guarantee you will get quality architcture ro planning.

Mamie Von Doomsday said...

Disgusting. You ignore the fact that the Landmark's Commission and just do whatever the hell you want and destroy a national treasure? Obviously the real estate agents and the bank people are complete f***wits!

Anonymous said...

Monstrosities. Absolute monstrosities.

Anonymous said...

Bulidings approved the request on the SAME DAY? How many envelopes were left in how many desk drawers? Can't these people have at least a modicum of subtlety? Is the hubris so ingrained and pervasive that not even a pretense is necessary?

Anonymous said...

I look forward to taking out
money from this TD bank branch
to buy some mini-cupcakes from Phoebe's
(cause she's the bestest) and sip
Dunkin Donuts joe, before going
to eat at Chipotle or McDonalds
or Quiznos or Shake Shack for a snack,
grab some candy and my meds at CVS
or Duane Read, find a Starbucks
to gauge my trust fund and shop
my online sites, buy tunes from iTunes
and ebooks from Amazon, take
out some more cash at Chase
or Bank America (oh how I love that
a bank is named after this majestic
land of pure freedom) to eat
at the elite restaurants that dot
Manhattan's still sketchy landscape
(too many icky mom and pops
that you can't be sure what you'll get there),
or perhaps I'll jaunt home to Williamsburg
or Dumbo or Park Slope or Fort Green
for some artisanal chutney
and artisanal beer and artisanal
friendship from my artisanal buds, but
for now I'll chow on some fro-yo
(fewer calories than regular yogurt)
which means I can have a Big Gulp from 7-11
my little heaven, and some mac and cheese
because I love me, I love me, I love
me, if only there were more
and more of these wonderful
stores I recognize from growing up
everywhere, what a beautiful landscape
that would be, what a paradise, my
NYC-suburbia-NYC, I love ya, I love ya!

-- Frank O'Horror

Jeremiah Moss said...

Frank O'Horror! A Pulitzer in poetry for you!

Anonymous said...

WHEN is NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman going to start investigating alleged bribe-taking at the NYC DOB? I think it'd have to be done at the State level, to avoid the meddlesome Mayor compromising the investigation into his cronies.

Anonymous said...

Having Albany investigate DOB would be like having Charlie Rangel investigate fraud in the NYC rent control system. Best bet: get the Chinese government to look into it. They have a habit of taking corrupt civil servants and politicians out to the courtyard and then billing the surviving family members for the trial and bullet used in the execution.

HellsKitchenManNyc said...

I am so glad I found this blog! I've long been concerned about NYC changing. I worked w/a friend on a docu on 42nd street before/as it was changing. I did the Super 8 film. I got to go inside the closed theatres. It's a completely different city than it was when I moved here in 84'. You expect a city to change some but it's been horrible on alot of levels! Thx for your blog!!

glamma said...

wow. just wow. this is some next level sh*t.
just unspeakable that this kind of thing flies in modern day NYC.

thanks for the post.

what an unspeakable loss.

jenifer palmer-lacy said...

sad, sad, sad

Anonymous said...

The demolition permit was "professionally certified" on the architect's license and not reviewed by a DoB plan examiner. All legal.

sinestra said...

Wow- how stupid. Anything FLW touched is gold- one of the best architects ever and they rush to demolish it as it is being landmarked? How very short sighted and pathetic you are, greedy developers. Instead of running you all out of town, tarred and feathered, our mayor and gov't rolls out the red carpet for you and kisses your sad little backsides.