Richmond in Contra Costa County, California — The American West (Pacific Coastal)
The Ford Assembly Building
"Quality means doing it right when no one is looking." -- Henry Ford
The Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in Richmond, California was constructed in the 1930s to produce the new Ford Model A. The factory influenced the development of the inner harbor and port, and as the largest automobile assembly plant on the West Coast, it boosted the local and regional economy during the Great Depression.
Designed by the renowned 20th-century industrial architect Albert Kahn, the 525,000 square foot Ford Assembly Building utilizes natural light from a vast array of windows and skylights (Kahn's trademark "daylight factory"), and has the open-space environment typical of his structures.
Sometimes called 'the architect of Detroit', Albert Kahn worked on more than 1000 commissions from Henry Ford and hundreds from other automakers. The Ford Assembly Building is one of approximately sixty Albert Kahn buildings on the National Register of Historic
"Architecture is 90% business, 10% art." -- Albert Kahn
During World War II, President Franklin D. Roosevelt banned production of civilian automobiles. To support the war effort, the Ford Assembly Plant was retooled to assemble jeeps and process tanks, armored cars, half-tracks, personnel carriers, and other combat vehicles. Named The Richmond Tank Depot, the plant became one of only three tank depots in the entire United States. In just three years, approximately 49,000 jeeps were assembled here, and 91,000 other military vehicles underwent modifications before being shipped overseas.
On the Home Front, women and men, African Americans, minorities and whites, worked side by side of the first time in American history to meet the monumental production demands essential to winning the war.
After World War II, the devastation to the local economy as a result of the closing of the Kaiser Shipyards would have been crippling, had it not been for the continued production of the Ford Assembly Plant. However, the last car rolled out in 1953. Due to inability to accommodate increased productivity demands, the facility closed in 1956 after Ford transferred production to a new San Jose plant.
The building served briefly
In 1989, the Loma Prieta Earthquake severely damaged the Ford Assembly Building. Demolition was contemplated, as developers failed to find a financially viable way for its reuse while adhering to preservation standards set for the historic landmark site. It remained abandoned and condemned until rehabilitation began in 2004.
Orton Development, Inc., with Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects completed the rehabilitation of the 525,000 square foot Ford Assembly Building in 2009. Today, research & development, office, retail, and industrial tenants enjoy state-of-the-art amenities in the historic building. The original south-facing sawtooth roof supports a one-megawatt solar power plant.
The project has won multiple design and sustainability awards, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation Design Award in 2008, and the AIA Honor Award for Architecture in 2011.
The 45,000 square foot bay front Craneway Pavilion, the southernmost portion of the complex, now offers the finest event space in the Bay Area, with stunning architecture and breathtaking views. A 100-seat restaurant is stationed amongst the restored original equipment of the historic Boiler Room. The former Oil House is home to the NPS Rosie the
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Industry & Commerce • Notable Buildings.
Location. 37° 54.549′ N, 122° 21.458′ W. Marker is in Richmond, California, in Contra Costa County. Marker can be reached from Harbor Way South near Hall Avenue, on the left when traveling south. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 1414 Harbor Way South, Richmond CA 94804, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. The Home Front Legacy (within shouting distance of this marker); "I was truly there and did my part to the end." -- Addie Mae Cance, former shipyard worker (approx. half a mile away); SS Red Oak Victory (approx. half a mile away); Dynamic Wartime Port (approx. 0.6 miles away); War Boomtown (approx. 0.7 miles away); Rosie the Riveter Memorial (approx. 0.7 miles away); Wartime Changes (approx. 0.7 miles away); Contra Costa College Site (approx. 0.7 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Richmond.
Also see . . .
1. Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant. Ford became Richmond's third largest employer, behind Standard Oil and the Santa Fe Railroad. It is also an outstanding example of 20th-century industrial architecture designed (Submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
2. The Rabbi's Son Who Built Detroit -- Forward. Albert Kahn is America’s forgotten architect — even though in his lifetime, he (and his firm) produced more buildings than any other architect, and his design and production method changed the face of the country. Eighty years before the bailout of the auto industry, just before the Great Depression, Kahn built the most opulent of Detroit’s new corporate skyscrapers — the Art Deco-style Fisher Building. Facing the GM headquarters, Kahn’s grandest expression of civic architecture defined the unique American union of commercial and civic identity. (Submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
3. Albert Kahn: 400 Buildings in Metro Detroit -- I Love Detroit Michigan. The true breadth of Albert Kahn’s creative genius has yet to be fully expressed online….until now. (Submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.)
Credits. This page was last revised on November 16, 2020. It was originally submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California. This page has been viewed 647 times since then and 107 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. submitted on May 22, 2016, by Barry Swackhamer of Brentwood, California.