marcel breuer’s iconic geller house on long island is demolished

overnight demolition of marcel breuer’s first bi-nuclear house

in november 1944 hungarian modernist architect marcel breuer was commissioned to design the geller lodge to Lawrence, Long Island. this year on January 25 and after almost 60 years of its realization, the emblematic house was demolished ‘in the dead of night’ because the current owners have requested a larger accommodation with a tennis court.

the house was the first built by breuer incorporating his revolutionary concept of the “binuclear” house, where the living and sleeping areas were divided into two wings, connected by a central hallway. After its completion, it was widely published in various magazines in the United States and Europe, and it was the winning design of a competition sponsored by Progressive Architecture in 1947.

‘progressive architecture’, February 1947

all images by docomomo US unless otherwise noted

the end of the mid-century geller house, despite its international importance

the structure showcased breuer’s talent and became the inspiration for a generation of architects. The Geller House was designed to meet the modern needs of the American family in the years following World War II. the butterfly-roofed dwelling was presented in an avant-garde aesthetic fitted with furniture designed by breuer himself. the architect created bespoke built-in cabinets, tables, and three basic types of chairs, including a lounge chair, a dining chair, and a stacking chair. its exterior was clad in vertical cedar siding, penetrated by large expanses of floor-to-ceiling windows. an elongated, slender rectangular plan comprised the living room and dining room, as well as the kitchen, utility, and maid’s room. meanwhile, the other wing accommodated the children’s bedrooms and playrooms, while an entrance hall connected the two volumes.

the floor plan has remained intact over the years, although it has changed hands several times. as they say, the building was likely eligible for the National Registers of Historic Places. Additionally, it had been identified as a historic landmark by the Long Island Antiquities Preservation Society in 1981. However, the classic mid-century house was demolished to combine two plots and form a tennis court, like the demanded its owners.

the end of marcel breuer's iconic geller house on long island
southeast elevation

picture by marcel beer

as stated by officials, the owners followed all local rules, not breaking any laws. Be that as it may, this loss testifies to a lax marking of construction rules that jeopardizes the survival of modernist architecture.

docomomo US – a non-profit organization dedicated to documenting and conserving Modern Movement buildings, sites and neighborhoods – attempted to save the house from demolition after reports that its owners intended to ruin the property. after the destruction of the house, docomomo US said that “they will continue to encourage those involved in the project to take another look at the house and protect a nationally significant work of modern residential architecture designed by one of the most prominent architects in the post world. -war “.

the end of marcel breuer's iconic geller house on long island

before demolition

© liz waytkus

Marcel Breuer's iconic binuclear house on Long Island is demolished
US docomomo executive director Liz Waytkus described the demolition as a devastating loss.

© Town of Heampstead, Landmarks Preservation Commission

Marcel Breuer's iconic binuclear house on Long Island is demolished
demolition 26.01.2022

Marcel Breuer's iconic binuclear house on Long Island is demolished
marcel beer

project info:

Last name: freeze i

architect: marcel beer

christina petridou I conceive

February 08, 2022

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