Ford Point

DATE: 2009
LOCATION: Richmond, California, USA
OLD USE: Factory
NEW USE: Office and performance space


History

As the largest assembly plant on the West Coast, the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in Richmond, California, was a major stimulant to the local and region economy. Built in 1930 and designed by Albert Kahn, Ford became the city’s third largest employer. The plant was converted for wartime production in World War II. After the war, Ford restart automobile assembly, however, that ended in February 1953. The factory was closed down in 1956 due to its inability to meet increased production demands.[1]

(Re)Developer

Orton Development (ODI) specializes in rehabilitation and redevelopment of existing sites. The firm, established in 1984, has worked on numerous mixed-use projects including properties from: General Motors Corp., US Steel Realty, Lockheed Martin, Simmons Company, British Oxygen Corp., Dillard’s Retail Corp., Del Monte, Hunt-Wesson, and American Standard.

Located in Berkeley, California, Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects has completed numerous projects throughout California.

Outcome

ODI purchased the site from the City of Richmond in 2004 for $5.4 million, who then hired Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects to undertake the new program design. The vacant building had been placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988, but then sustained significant damage during the Loma Prieta earthquake one year later. The City of Richmond invested $20 million over 15 years after the quake and prior to the sale to ODI.[2]

Stretching a quarter-mile long and including more than 500,000 square feet of space, the adapted Ford Point (as it is now called) is a model of sustainable design. “In an exemplary preservation turn-around, the building that once manufactured exhaust-spewing internal-combustion engines now houses ‘green’ businesses and a popular entertainment venue, all of which are revitalizing the local economy.” It is home to the Crane Pavilion (40,000 sf), a public entertainment venue and the future home of the National Park Service’s Rosie the Riveter Visitor Center. The building’s largest tenant, SunPower Corporation, has installed a state of the art solar voltaic system atop the sawtooth structure of the historic facility.

“The rebirth of the Ford Assembly Building serves as an extraordinary example of how historic preservation can be a catalyst for community revitalization, economic development and sustainability,” says Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “This is a building that California can be proud of—and that architects, developers, politicians and business owners across the country should study as a model of innovative, environmentally responsible reuse.”[3]

[1]National Parks Service
[2]Architectural Record
[3]National Trust for Historic Preservation

Images courtesy of Architectural Record.