Buffalo museum builds long-lost Frank Lloyd Wright gas station

Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:17am EDT
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By Neale Gulley

BUFFALO, New York (Reuters) - Frank Lloyd Wright's long-envisioned gas station of the future will finally open next year in Buffalo, New York -- some 80 years after the project was first approved.

Wright's early notion that America would need gas stations, and lots of them, proved true. But his plans to create a network of standardized filling stations never got off the ground, said James Sandoro, founder of the Buffalo Transportation Pierce Arrow Museum.

The museum is building the filling station, with above-ground tanks and a pitched copper roof, as a showpiece exactly as Wright drew it up.

The plans for the Buffalo station were only recently discovered among letters between Wright and a prominent Buffalo businessman named Darwin Martin, for whom Wright built two private homes in the area, Sandoro said.

"It's exciting. It's not every day that you discover an unbuilt commission by Frank Lloyd Wright that was previously unknown," said architect Patrick Mahoney, who has been hired to carry out the $15 million project.

Visitors won't be able to fill up there, however. The station will be housed inside a 40,000-square-foot atrium and visible through glass walls.

Modern-day building codes would not allow features such as the overhead fuel storage tanks in a working service station, Sandoro said.

That, the architect said, can be daunting.   Continued...

<p>A visitor watches an archive television interview with U.S. architect Frank Lloyd Wright at the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Vincent West</p>