New Hope for Brutalist Wonder: IKEA May Turn Pirelli Tire Building into a Hotel

The controversial Brutalist Pirelli Tire Building in New Haven,
Connecticut was saved from demolition by a compromise with IKEA
back in 2002, and now the Swedish retailer is reportedly
considering a new use for the structure. Designed by Marcel
Breuer, a master of Modernism
whose monumental concrete creations remain divisive to this
, it’s one of the most important Brutalist buildings
remaining in the United States. Now, if the rumors are true, it
could be transformed into a hotel.

The building was initially built to serve as the headquarters
of Armstrong Rubber in 1969. Consisting of a massive monolithic
rectilinear volume of offices floating above a much longer base
of research and warehouse space, the structure is nothing if
not imposing. Many residents of New Haven found it ugly and
villainous-looking, and once it was no longer in use,
wanted to see it torn down. But it’s historically important,
and advocacy groups pushed to keep it intact. IKEA proposed
building a major new store on the site, but that required
tearing down a substantial part of the building for the store’s
parking lot.

Pirelli Tire Building

After the sale went through and the structure was modified,
many assumed IKEA would find a use for the remainder of the
building – maybe for administrative purposes, as it was
originally intended. But it has remained forlorn and empty,
occasionally draped with a banner advertising a sale. It looks
like that might finally change.
The New Haven Independent newspaper
reports that IKEA is
“in talks” with a New England hotel developer.

While IKEA refuses to comment on any new plans for the New
Haven Pirelli building, the city’s Economic Development
Administrator, Matthew Nemerson, says the good news is “it is
going to be preserved.” Would you book a night to experience
this classic Brutalist building up close and personal?

Top photo by
Gunnar Klack/Flickr Creative Commons

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