Antoni Gaudi Almost Built A Masterpiece In NYC: How Cool Would That Have Been?

How Cool Would That Have Been?

By Dan Bratman September 20, 2016
Sagrada Familia. Rodrigo Garrido /

Antoni Gaudi might be one of the most inventive architects that ever lived.

Yeah, I said it. You can disagree if you want. It’s just that you’d be wrong. The almost inconceivable complexity of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, the curvaceous lines and lurid colors, the mosaics of unprecedented beauty—no one was ever like Gaudi. Can you imagine if there was a Gaudi building in New York City? Well, there almost was.

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New York City in the early 20th century was a city in the making. Architecture was, in many ways, having a golden age. These were the days of Frank Lloyd Wright, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. But Gaudi stood out clearly even in that squad. And NYC stood out as one of the best spots for a wealthy industrialist to make a permanent mark on the world. As the story goes, in 1908, two such industrialists (aka, really rich guys whose names did not get recorded for posterity) wanted to build something truly unique in New York. So, they traveled to Spain to meet with the one and only Antoni Gaudi.

Gaudi himself was born in 1852 in Spain and from his early years, distinguished himself as an artist and a thinker. Before long, Gaudi was creating exceptional masterpieces all over Barcelona. His use of materials, his unrelenting adherence to design and dream-like visions of how a structure can both blend in to and stand out from its environment was unlike anything before—or since. By 1908, when NYC was blossoming, Gaudi had already completed most of his best known and lauded works.

So when these two New York industrialists sat down with Mr. Gaudi, you can imagine he came up with a concept befitting of his vision. The two men wanted what was essentially a playground for the rich of New York. So the plan was to build the HotelAtraccion. There were multiple sketches of differing forms and heights, but one of the final results was a multiple conical structure of 1,100 feet high. This would have made it the tallest structure in the US. The hotel’s plans included an exhibition hall, conference rooms, a theater and no less than five dining rooms—each one to represent the five continents. Which is especially weird because there’s like, um seven? But it’s Gaudi, so, whatever.

Drawing by Juan Matemala via

Math problems aside, further plans for the building was abandoned. Exactly why is yet unclear. But one story says that as the hotel was to cater to the super-wealthy only, it was in conflict with Gaudi’s notoriously Communist beliefs, and so he ultimately refused to continue. Another story says he took ill and was unable to complete the project. Either way, New York City is sadly one less amazing building than it could have been.

But New Yorkers rarely dwell on what could have been and the skyline is proof. But it sure would have been cool to have a Gaudi right here in the Big Apple.


Dan Bratman



Dan began his career at the age of four when he wrote a poem for his mother about farmers. While his mom believes this was the peak of his career, he went on to publish poetry, fiction and countless articles. For the last seven years, Dan has worked as writer and editor for numerous publications around the world.

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