Fire Destroys San Jose's IBM Building 25


Medium-sized image unavailable for this photo.
Lowe's will tear down the 50-year-old IBM Building 25 for its
new store.

Credit: Preservation Action Council of San Jose

A few hours after the city of San Jose had worked out a deal with Lowe's to save a wing of a 1957 building, a fire destroyed most of it. No one was injured in the Mar. 7 fire, which is under investigation.

IBM Building 25, known as the place where engineers invented the predecessor to the hard drive, was has been empty since 1996. Architect John Bolles, best known for Candlestick Park, designed the mid-century modern structure. Four other historic buildings in the city have burned down in suspicious fired since last July.

"This is devastating, in every sense of the word. We have worked for years to save this iconic building that reflects not only architectural innovation and excellence but Silicon Valley's high-tech heritage," said Brian Grayson, interim executive director of the Preservation Action Council of San Jose, in a statement. "We are obviously very concerned at the recent losses of a number of the city's historic buildings by fire and look forward to working with the city to change this pattern."

During the six-year struggle to work out last week's compromise to save one wing, the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Western Office was part of the successful court case against the city, acting as an amicus. "We are saddened by the loss of this building of great architectural and cultural significance on a national level of importance," said Anthea Hartig, director of the Western Office of the National Trust.

The council hopes to rebuild the 9,000-square-foot wing of the building into a new Lowe's complex.

"Despite this terrible fire, the settlement that we have all been working on for months should proceed," said the council's attorney, Susan Brandt-Hawley. "We expect that there will be a reconstruction of a portion of IBM Building 25 that can tell the story of its fascinating past. We know the City is making efforts to salvage the historic fabric from the fire site as much as is feasible." 


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