When you’re an auto manufacturer known for world-class styling, you had better be willing to put some serious thought into the architecture and design of your dealerships. When Italian exotic car builder Ferrari arrived in Naples with its first dealership here late last year, it did just that with a building that was not only a testament to attitude and excess, but also functionality and form.
That Ferrari chose to come to Naples is not all that surprising. What is surprising is that it took so long. Although the marque has been appreciated in the area for decades (Naples has had Cars on 5th—a Ferrari Club-organized event—since 2002), buyers had to service their cars at Ferrari dealerships on the east coast or in Tampa. News that the Naples dealership reportedly sold dozens of Ferraris in its first month implies the city was more than ready for its own outpost. All you need to do is drive by the 58,000-square-foot structure to know this dealership is, pun intended, firing on all cylinders. Not only is it visually striking, but it is wisely located at the mouth of one of this nation’s most exclusive golf enclaves—The Old Collier Golf Club. Members of the club, many of whom enjoy billionaire status, must pass the dealership every time they hit the links.
For the rest of us driving by along Tamiami Trail North, the allure comes from a dynamic facade featuring a sloping arm that in many ways recalls the spectator bridges of international race tracks that Ferrari regularly dominates. But the design is purely the creative work of Maryland architecture firm Penney Design Group. Bonita Springs-based commercial builder EnviroStruct LLC handled construction.
With more than 1,000 dealership designs to their credit, the Penney Design Group is no stranger to creating jewel boxes of automotive excellence. They’ve even designed more than two dozen dealerships for the New York-based New Country Motor Car Group, which in addition to this dealership, also owns Ferrari of Palm Beach and Wide World Ferrari in Spring Valley, New York. “High-end brands tend to give you more latitude,” Jon Penney of Penney Design Group says. “A lot of the form does have to follow the function. But we wanted to create some motion and a nice place to view these beautiful works of art. You will not see another Ferrari dealership that looks like this.”
The architects took Collier County design requirements into consideration when designing the project, but didn’t hold back on the shape of things. “We were trying to come up with a concept that gave you really dynamic expressions from different views,” the Penney Design lead design architect on the project, Peter Beylo, says. “When you are out in front you have one viewing experience, but coming from other directions you have a much different sense of this facade, particularly with the ‘tilting leg’ element.”
That “leg” angles forward and to the side. The architects knew how that angle would play in space and that it would add a powerful statement, especially when standing underneath. To put it in modern vernacular, it is Instagram worthy.
A majority of the front of the building is covered in silver Aluminum Composite Material (ACM), while the tilted leg and its canopy is clad in gray ACM with an accent band of red (with a white stripe) lining a portion of its undercarriage. Its grain direction reads as a folded-over piece. Corrugated steel covers a boxed area along the southern edge, which encompasses the “presentation room,” where new owners take delivery of their vehicles, often with a dramatic reveal from under a silk cover.
Once inside, functionality makes things more businesslike. The interior of the two-story building allows for an enormous amount of space to display new cars under LED lighting, playfully called “light clouds.” They likely make a difference after hours, as the building’s expansive use of floor-to-ceiling windows makes natural light the perfect element, especially when gleaming across the mirror-like finishes of new Ferraris. And that is exactly the point of the showroom’s interior—the cars are the stars. No need to dazzle with over-the-top interior design when clean lines and a few small lounges filled with the latest in Italian leather furniture will do (for those moments when you’re waiting for an oil change or sitting with a sales associate trying to pick out the perfect brake caliper or carpet colors). Clean white walls throughout act as exhibit spaces for framed, large-scale photography of the marque’s most recent offerings and a few classics, hung as though they’re headed to the Museum of Modern Art.
This is, after all, an automotive place of worship, and the love of machines is never far from mind. Take the very deliberate placement of the service department’s dyno—or dynometer—where cars are strapped down and run through the gears to measure things like horsepower and top speed. The cars are screaming literally feet behind a thin layer of glass adjoining the service department’s waiting lounge. It seems you buy a Ferrari as much for the sound as the speed.
Toward the back of the space, overlooking the golf course, is the dealership’s pre-owned collection, which can house approximately 40 exotics at any given time.
Since its arrival, the dealership has been prominent in the social scene, serving as the host locale for several nonprofit events, gathering area car lovers for monthly Exotics & Espresso events in season and sponsoring major local car shows and rallies for Ferrari Club members. A grand opening is expected to take place later this year. Guidare veloce!
Photography by Erik Kellar