After being relegated to storage facilities for much of its lifetime, proposals to relocate the Aluminaire House seem to be picking up steam. The project, which was the first all-metal house in the United States, originally stood as a symbol for architectural modernism in a rapidly urbanizing New York.
The house was pulled from its most recent site on the campus of the New York Institute of Technology when the university removed many of its academic buildings from the area. The project was left in the care of the Aluminaire House Foundation, a non-profit dedicated to moving, restoring and maintaining the historic structure. They are now requesting support from architects and designers to bring the project back to light in a more permanent site in the Sunnyside area of Queens.
The dwelling was originally designed and constructed in 1931 as a case-study by architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey. It was constructed in ten days (entirely from donated parts) for display in the Architectural and Allied Arts Exhibition. The exhibition itself became the subject of the book, The International Style, and the Aluminaire House stood as shining example of the new international style of architecture.
The house was moved to Long Island as the “Harrison Weekend House” soon after its construction, and lost its original intent as an innovative architectural prototype. While it served as an educational tool throughout its tenure at NYIT, it has not been read in its originally intended context since it’s construction.
The proposed site in Queens seems an apt choice considering the time period and ideology of the house. It will sit next to the Sunnyside Gardens (1924-28) and the Phipps Houses (1930), other crucial examples of the architectural response to the peripheral housing problem in mid-century New York City.
The relocation, however, hasn't run entirely smoothly. Locals are opposing the move of the "jarring and inappropriate" structure, and the move has already been postponed once. Neither side seems willing to back down, and for now at least, there's seems to be no choice but to wait and see how things play out.