Marcel Marsold

Marcel Breuer's iconic Pirelli Building will be readapted into hotel

Marcel Breuer's Pirelli Tire Building has been vacant since 1988. (Wikimedia Commons)

The Marcel Breuer-designed Pirelli Tire Building in the Long Wharf district of New Haven, Connecticut, is about to have new life breathed into it following 32 years of vacancy. Local developer Bruce Becker purchased the 2.76-acre property late last December for $1.2 million with plans to turn the brutalist structure into a hotel with up to 165 rooms, as was originally reported in April of 2018.

Becker purchased the property from IKEA, which has been using the building as a billboard since moving next door in 2003. IKEA was the first to propose the reoccupation of the vacant building as a hotel in November 2018 when its members spoke to the City Plan Commission. IKEA and the city officials of New Haven have both since been eager to find a buyer for the building that would be dedicated to its preservation and reoccupation, and the choice to treat it as a hotel aligns with the city’s growing tourism economy as well as its plan to redevelop the Long Wharf district.

A concrete block balanced atop a thin plinth

The building’s iconic detailing and mid-level void are visible from the nearby Interstate 95 highway. (Pat Krupa)

Future plans for the hotel call for improvements to the structure’s stormwater management and landscaping while reconfiguring the adjacent surface lot. The building’s iconic exterior will be preserved to its original condition without any alterations. Two hundred square feet of bicycle storage will also be added to the building’s void below the current IKEA sign.

“The Pirelli Building is one of the most architecturally significant mid-century modern buildings in the United States,” Becker told The New Haven Independent, “and has the potential to be preserved and transformed into a net-zero energy boutique hotel and conference center.” The building was originally completed in 1970 for the Pirelli Tire company, which vacated the property in 1988. The structure’s most iconic feature, the one-story void between the building’s two main volumes, was intended to reduce noise levels between the development labs below and the offices on the upper floors.

Becker has not yet revealed which hotel company will occupy the space when the conversion is complete.

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