In 1968, Marcel Breuer was fresh off designing the Whitney Museum, now the Met Breuer, in New York City. For a new project, the famed architect turned his eye to New Haven, Connecticut, where the Armstrong Rubber Co. was looking to build a new headquarters.
Breuer responded with an optical illusion of a building: a floating concrete cube that hovered above a sturdy concrete base. For years, the Brutalist building was a symbol of midcentury experimentalism, but after Italian company Pirelli bought Armstrong and sold the building, Breuer’s design fell into disuse. For nearly 20 years, the Ikea next door has owned the site of the building, which has sat empty and unused, save for the occasional banner ad that advertised sales and events on its facade. But now, it’s poised to take on a new life.
About a year after winning city approval for turning the building into a hotel, Ikea recently sold the building for $1.2 million to Bruce Becker, a local developer who wants to see the iconic structure become a “net-zero energy boutique hotel and conference center.”
According to the New Haven Independent, Ikea’s city-approved plans for the building and coastal site states that hotel would hold up to 165 rooms, 129 dedicated parking spaces, and 200 square feet of bicycle storage, and come with “stormwater management and landscaping improvements, a reconfiguration of Ikea’s existing 1,241-space surface lot, and the repair and cleaning up of the building’s facade.” The proposal does not mention any changes to the exterior.
What could the interior transformation look like? The newly opened Standard Hotel London, which took over a ’70s Brutalist office building, could offer some ideas. Stay tuned.