The Ford Assembly Building; Richmond, California
 by Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects Print
Thursday, 13 January 2011 08:23

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© Billy Hustace Photography
The project converted a crumbling historic icon into a model of urban revitalization and sustainability. Now, Albert Kahn’s 1931 car factory for Henry Ford houses an acre-sized public event venue, restaurant/retail, and tenants including SunPower and Mountain Hardwear.

The 500,000-squre-foot waterfront building was awe-inspiring even as a quake-ravaged, brick, steel and concrete ruin. Hence, the project design objective to reflect our current century led to the integration of modern architectural elements for today’s diverse building program while complementing and enhancing the edifice’s powerful forms.

The restoration and preservation of the Ford Assembly Building on the San Francisco Bay waterfront, saved an historic architectural icon from the wrecking ball, and converted a long-vacant auto plant into a current-day model of urban revitalization and sustainability. The 525,000 square foot building had been designed by Albert Kahn for Henry Ford, and constructed in 1931. Following the facility’s initial car factory function, the Ford Building had many incarnations, including the famous World War II tank factory "manned" by Rosie-the-Riveters.
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© Billy Hustace Photography


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© Billy Hustace Photography


In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake's devastation of the structure rendered it dangerous and unusable. Finding a way to revive the magnificent but crumbling 500,000 square foot industrial hulk was challenging; multiple attempts had failed to create a financially viable way to adaptively reuse the building, while adhering to the preservation standards of the National Park Service and the State of California Historic Preservation Office (SHPO). The current owner, who acquired the property in 2004, and his architect successfully completed the building in 2009.

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© Billy Hustace Photography
The design of the Ford Building restoration allows the considerable mix of uses at Ford. The west side of the original car "assembly" portion of the building is two stories, the east side is one story.

Typically the second floor is office, and the first level is a mixture of manufacturing, R&D labs, support space and retail. Along the east side are loading docks, while the west side has the official front doors of several companies. The Craneway, a 40,000 square-foot room for a wide variety of events and The BoilerHouse Restaurant are welcome amenities for both tenants and visitors to the Ford campus.

Design excellence for the Ford Assembly Building meant instilling new purpose and function by revitalizing an already rich historic architectural icon while respecting its existing industrial aesthetic, cultural and community.

The project has received one of AIA's 2011 Institute Honor Award for Architecture. The Jury for the Awards had the following comments: "The envelope is intact despite years of neglect and functioning in a fashion of research and design fabrication not dissimilar to Khan's original intentions. This renovated facility has improved the region by saving an older building and its embodied energy. (The project) provides a large space for the community to bring various diverse groups of the area together."

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© Billy Hustace Photography



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© Billy Hustace Photography


Project Credits:
Architect: Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects
Engineer: Charles M. Salter Associates (Acoustical); Mechanical Design Studio, Inc. (Mechanical); The Crosby Group; Gregory P. Luth & Associates (Structural)
General Contractor: Dalzell Corporation
Historic Preservation: Preservation Architecture
Landscape Architect: SWA Group Lighting Design: Architecture + Light


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Last Updated on Thursday, 13 January 2011 16:38