Frank Lloyd Wright's Service Station Comes to Life

BUFFALO, N.Y. – Renowned American architect Frank Lloyd Wright never saw his idea for a service station come to life, but the Buffalo Transportation/Pierce-Arrow Museum took that 1927 vision and made it into a reality. On June 26, the museum cut the ribbon on the non-functioning station it built based on Wright's plans, The Associated Press reported.

The station is built inside a protective 40,000-square-foot museum addition and includes two 45-foot copper poles, which Wright calls totems, that rise through a copper cantilevered roof; overhead, gravity-fed gas tanks; two fireplaces; a second-floor observation room; and separate restrooms. Wright's own convertible is parked in front of the station.

"In 1927, you had a gas pump and an outhouse," in contrast to Wright's imagined luxury service station, said museum founder James Sandoro. Wright himself labeled his design "an ornament to the pavement" in his writings.

His design was never built for use because Wright demanded an architectural fee that would equal the cost of building the station, according to the AP report. In 1958, another filling station that Wright designed and helped build opened in Cloquet, Minn., where it still operates today.

Sandoro acquired the rights to build the 1927 design from the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation 11 years ago. The museum received $6.3 million from New York State for the project.

"It is one big cog in our economic development wheel," said Dottie Gallagher-Cohen, president of the Buffalo Niagara Partnership.

The service station is the third Wright structure to be built in Buffalo using his designs, following the 2004 opening of the Blue Sky Mausoleum in Forest Lawn Cemetery, and the 2007 opening of the Fontana Boathouse.

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