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Wright Studies
Hoffman Auto Showroom, New York, New York (1954) (S.380)
 
Interior Photographs By Douglas M. Steiner, March 2010
The Hoffman Display Room featured a revolving display turntable on which three to four cars could be displayed. The ramp rose from the back and wrapped around the left side leading to a cantilevered balcony. The ramp allowed for additional displays as well as viewing cars from the balcony. The Hoffman display room was a precursor to the Guggenheim Museum, a seamless, continuous spiral ramp. Wright's initial designs for the Guggenheim dated to 1943. The Hoffman display room opened in 1954. Five years later and thirty-two blocks Northeast, the Guggenheim Museum finally opened.
      Centered in the display turntable was a circular planting box. Wright featured a large sculpture of the Jaguar hood ornament, but in 1953, when Hoffman began importing Mercedes-Benz, Jaguar opened their own showroom. Although designed as a Jaguar Showroom, it was never used as such.
        There were other Wright designed elements. Planting boxes, built-in seating, furniture, imbedded lighting and a cantilevered balcony.
      In 1982 the display room was enlarged, remodeled and a mirrored Mercedes three-pointed star was added to the ceiling over the turntable. Oversight of the renovations was supervised by Wes Peters, Cornelia Brierly, and Morton Delson.
      In 2002 the display room was expanded and completely renovated.
      In 2008, Mercedes-Benz announced that it would be investing over $30 million in a new and larger company-owned flagship dealership in Manhattan. The historic Frank Lloyd Wright sales showroom at 430 Park Avenue would remain unchanged in design and operations.
 
1: Exterior entry viewed from the South, Park Avenue Side.
 

2: Exterior entryway viewed from the Northwest, on the corner of Park Avenue and 56th Street in Manhattan, New York.
 
3: Interior Entryway. Although glass enclosure was not part of Wright's original design, it mirrors many of his elements. It is reminiscent of the glass entryway of the V. C. Morris Gift Shop (S.310) 1948. Original Entryway was to the left of the mirrored column on the left.
 
3B: Detail of the interior Entryway enclosure.
 

4: Interior entryway mirrors the circular curve of the ramp and Balcony. The original Southeast wall of the Display Room centered on he column on the right. The Display Room was enlarged in 1982.
 

5: Built-in seating. Originally along the Southeast wall of the Reception Area, this built-in seating was added along the Southwest, Park Avenue side.
 

5B: Detail of built-in seating.
 

6: The Balcony cantilevers out from the ramp and allows for additional viewing from above.
 

6B: Detail of the cantilevered Balcony.
 

6C: Detail of the Display Turntable. The floor beneath the carpet on the left was raised to the same level as the Turntable (see below).
6D
6D: Originally the 1955 Display Turntable was elevated above the floor level. Photographed by Ezra Stoller.
 

7: The cantilevered Balcony is on the left, circular Turntable Planter on the right.
 

8: The ramp rose from the back and wrapped around the left side of the Display Turntable, leading to the Balcony on the left. The ramp allowed for additional displays as well as viewing cars from above. The Turntable Planter on the right.
 

8B: The ramp allowed for additional displays as well as viewing cars from above. The Balcony is on the left.
 

9: The revolving Display Turntable allowed for three to four cars to be displayed.
 

9B: Not only did Wright initially specify mirrors on the ceiling, but he also intended mirrors to cover the  Turntable, allowing guests to see the underside of the automobiles. It was not until 1982 that the ceiling was mirrored and the Mercedes three-pointed star was added over the turntable. See 6D.
 

9C: Detail of the Turntable Planter. Imbedded lighting illuminates the planter.
 
Detail of the Turntable and Planter 1955. Imbedded lighting at base of planter was originally exposed. Photographed by Ezra Stoller.
 

9D: Imbedded lighting illuminates the planter.
 

10: Detail of the Turntable Planter.
 

10B: The beginning of the ramp wall mirrors the circular planter.
 
11: The ramp rises from the back and circles around the Display Turntable, leading to a balcony. Originally the ramp wall continued into the foreground and wrapped around the turntable. See photograph below.
 
Showroom 1955. The ramp wall in the foreground was removed and now ends just to the right of the red Porsche in the center. See photograph above. Photographed by Ezra Stoller. Courtesy of Architectural Forum.
 
11B: Detail of the ramp wall, viewed from the Turntable.
 
12: Detail of the ramp wall, viewed from the base of the ramp.
 
13: To the far right of the ramp is a hallway that leads to the office area.
 
14: Ramp leads to viewing Balcony, and passes Planting Box to the right. Hallway to office is on the far right.
 
14B: Ramp leads to viewing Balcony, and passes Planting Box to the right. The hallway is hidden by a mirrored wall on the far right.
 
14C: Detail of mirrored column.
 
15: The Ramp continues on the left toward the Balcony. Circular Planter Box was an addition during one of the renovations. The stairs on the far right lead to the office area. The stairs replaced a ramp that lead up to the Display Ramp..
 
16: The Balcony is balanced on either side by a mirrored column, and overlooks the Display area.
 
17: The Storage area located along the back of the display Room has walls of glass and semi-circular planter box, not part of the original design.
 
18: To the far right of the Display Ramp is a hallway that leads to the office area. The doors are capped semi-circular enclosure.
 
19: Detail of the capped semi-circular door enclosure.
 
20: An original ramp lead up to the Display Ramp., and was replaced by stairs, see image below.
 
In 1982 the display room was enlarged and remodeled. Oversight of the renovations was supervised by Taliesin Architects Wes Peters, Cornelia Brierly and Morton Delson. Photographed after the 1982 renovations by...
 
20B: This photograph shows the ramp on the left that leads up to the Display Ramp. Display Turntable is visible on the right. Photograph by William Storrer.
 
 
Text and Photographs by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2010
 
 
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