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Nela Park Industrial Building to Become Lab, Offices - Cont'd

Nela Park, whose historic buildings date from 1912-28, is often hailed as the nation's first industrial park.  Located in a beautifully landscaped and maintained park-like setting at 1975 Noble Road on a bluff overlooking Lake Erie and Nine Mile Creek, the facility has the look of a college campus, with a quadrangle dominated by a magnificent fountain at its center.  The historic buildings at Nela Park were designed by the firm of Wallis and Goodwillie of New York City.  Frank Wallis served under Richard Morris Hunt as supervising architect at Biltmore estate (1895), Asheville, NC http://www.biltmore.com/ , considered by many to be the nation's largest private residence.  http://www.gelighting.com/na/business_lighting/education_resources/conferences/institute/history.htm

Building 330 is part of a second wave of building at the facility and is located near its southern end, where more of the industrial buildings were clustered.  The headquarters of GE Lighting were in the northern and central areas and are more elaborate brick buildings with terra cotta trim.  The building dates from 1920 and was expanded by about a third toward its rear in 1928-29 and in 1948 recessed areas near the front section were infilled.  A modernization of its interiors took place in 1976.  This building is faced with similar brick, but with cast stone trim.  It has a lower front portion that is an office area with double-hung wood windows and a taller rear portion with broader openings that were bricked down in more recent years and infilled with contemporary aluminum sash.

This one-story industrial building features concrete and wood block floors, painted brick walls and a wood plank ceiling, supported by a series of massive open web riveted steel trusses that run from north to south.  A monitor roof runs down its center, but its side openings were removed years ago and replaced by insulated panels.

The front section has a five-part facade with slightly projecting center and end bays.  The entrance has a low pediment and pilasters, formed from cast stone.  The end bay windows each receive a richer cast stone treatment.  Cast stone forms an entablature at the parapet but has been capped by painted metal in more recent years.

The facility served as the printing operation center for GE Lighting until about ten years ago, when its production as outsourced.  It has remained largely vacant since then.  Numerous modern partitions and dropped ceilings used to create smaller spaces throughout the building were all removed in the early stages of this project.  A surprise was discovering an unpainted dark wood plank ceiling in the office section at the front of the building.  It will remain exposed as part of this project.

Because of the need to create a series of lab spaces, each with its own environmental control requirements, a series of large individual spaces was created.  They are linked by a corridor running from front to rear down the center of the building.  It has a 20 ft. ceiling with the open web trusses exposed and highlighted with indirect lighting.  Some labs have full-height ceilings, as does the rear production and storage area.  The end result will be a facility that meets the demanding needs of its high tech tenants while retaining the building's original character throughout each major space and preserving its attractive masonry exterior.

Mr. Carl M. Hanson, Director of Facilities and Security Services for GE Lighting, is managing the project for the client and HWH are architects.  http://www.hwhaep.com/  Steven McQuillin & associates are preservation consultants.  The project, to be finished in the spring of 2010 has applied for federal rehabilitation tax credits.