I enjoy highlighting automotive design, yet cars aren’t everything: architecture happens. So let’s combine ’em for the world of automotive retailing.
Witness a perfect moment in A.D.D. (Auto Dealer Design): the Mid Century Modern design of Duffield’s Lincoln-Mercury paired with a suicide door Continental. Photographer Julius Schulman did a solid to both man-made, Mad Men worthy items: taking advantage of the facility’s rectilinear-ness, the Continental’s unique doors, a perfect shadow and a pretty girl for scale and perspective.
This is one reason why you love(d) certain car dealerships. Then again, step back, remove the artsy-fartsy elements and let the local marketing change it all.
Apparently Mid-Century design is NOT mass-market retail friendly. Maybe you want the lifestyle of Mr. Schulman’s photograph, but we all know you’re leaving with ‘dat $2168.00 Mercury Comet.
Perhaps it’s time to examine modern dealerships…sporting all that manufacturer-demanded style!
No surprise: BMW does a fantastic job. If the dealer has the real estate, they sport a rotunda that emulates the “four cylinders” of the corporate office. Far from a facade re-skin, this is arguably the best designed dealership plan by the automakers. To wit:
Mercedes’ blue pillars with vanilla-steampunk metal elements in front of the requisite luxury car glass walls doesn’t work. I see it speaking to Local Motors’ quirky mechanical wonders on wheels. While far from offensive, does this work with a somewhat conservative, hood-ornament bedazzled luxury car brand?
Since the Volkswagen Auto Group is far from stuffy and conservative, both the Audi and Porsche boyz make some interesting spaces that emulate their vehicle’s Teutonic designs. Porsche dealers emulate the newer buildings in Porsche’s home in Zuffenhausen quite well. It’s an appealing grouping.
Lexus’ modern, minimalist mushroom-topped buildings had a charm that grew on you…just like the 1990 LS 400. While the textures changed from ribbed pillars and roofs to modern, BMW-like, square paneling, you know a Lexus dealer when you see one.
Unless you visit Escondido California. Wow: a stunning wedge of (mixed use) office building with the Lexus Mushroom in the entryway. This is why America rocks…right?
Infiniti is another story. Their original buildings had a cubist theme rivaling the hipness of the grille-less, belt-buckle face on the original Q45. The new design puts a glass wave of modest elegance to any current building. Not bad, but forgettable compared to other brands. Then again…if the cars are this forgettable…
…but it could be worse…
Oh my damn. Admittedly, the standalone Lincoln dealerships (all 17 of them?) are far better. But the not-expensive, supremely cosmetic facade-upgrades of their blocky entryway do not scream luxury. The black marble is cool, but that’s only one element looking for more. This isn’t a rotund BMW dealership: much like their product, Lincoln buildings are needs a more unique platform.
I was going to say something slightly similar–but less negative–about Cadillac. Until this: cheaper Cadillac buildings have the same tall entryway on a mundane box of a facility, but there’s something refreshing about their lightly colored stone, all that lightly-tinted glass and the supremely traditional Cadillac script logo on top. And when lucky enough to add it to a dealership this round, tall and impressive…well, it’s a done deal. The mix of color and glass seems more inviting and more upscale than the starkness of Lincoln dealers.
So what do you think about A.D.D.? Well, I hope you have a lovely day.
(If the comments section warrants it, I’ll dig into non-luxury brands next time ’round. Come on Son, you know you want it!)