Ford Assembly Building, Richmond, CA
Award Type: Honor Award
At the dawn of the Motor Age, the name “Ford” was synonymous with innovation in manufacturing and transportation. Today, this former Ford factory is a standard-bearer for innovation in preservation and reuse.
The Ford Assembly Building, stretching a quarter-mile long and boasting more than 500,000 square feet of space, captured national acclaim as a masterpiece of industrial architecture when it opened in 1931. Once a hub of activity on the Richmond waterfront, the sprawling factory closed in 1956 and sat in disrepair and vulnerable to demolition for nearly five decades. A visionary rehabilitation has transformed this long-neglected landmark designed by Albert Kahn into 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.
The Ford Assembly Building, where thousands of military vehicles were produced during World War II, was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1988. In 1989, the Loma Prieta earthquake inflicted severe structural damage on the already dilapidated building. The City began to pursue demolition as developer after developer failed to find a financially viable way to reuse the building while adhering to preservation standards.
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