Ford Long Beach Assembly Plant Assembly Building
The Assembly Building is 405,270 square feet, It extends southward from the Office Building a distance of 740 feet, separated into 37 20-foot bays. It extends east from the Office Building 215 feet in five 43-foot bays. Although a series of partitions now divides the space, the Assembly Building was originally conceived by Albert Kahn to be a vast, open room to allow for complete flexibility in the arrangement of Ford's assembly lines. Today, no assembly line apparatus remains. The structural system is organized into 40 by 443 foot structural bays. The columns are 8 inch by 8 inch I-section steel. Mechanical services are furnished on the face of the columns. Connecting the columns in each direction are trusses four and one half feet deep (see first picture below).
Spanning the 40 foot bay direction and running from east to west in the Assembly Building are a series of sawtooth skylights with a northern exposure, shedding natural light into the vast interior (first and second pictures below). These sawtooth skylights rise a clear nine feet from the top cord of the truss, exposing a continuous ten-foot high clerestory running almost 150 feet. These monitors were also operable, with centrally located control panels on a line of columns running down the center of the Assembly Building from north to south. The operable monitors allow the introduction of fresh air to the facility. Along the top of these monitor are a series of 8 inch channel purlins which support the roof deck assembly, which appears to be covered or sheathed with a corrugated asbestos material. A limited number of overhead tracks, supported by the trusses, are still visible, but it is impossible to determine the arrangement of the assembly lines. The trusses which support the roof and monitor system are large enough to support substantial loads necessitated by the assembly line. The entire structural system appears to be both lightweight and phenomenally flexible. This flexibility is reflected in the constant re-use and re-organization of the work space below.
Suspended above the main assembly floor are eight 40 by 20 foot toilet rooms (third photo below). These mezzanine facilities were kept clear of the main floor to allow ultimate flexibility. As subsidence occurred, an additional benefit of the vertical separation was realized. As long as the public level was above sea level, it remained simple to drain.
The mezzanine toilet rooms are reached by one staircase at one end of the platform. Many of these stairs no longer exist. Open lockers for the storage of personal belongings and a section of compartmentalized toilets and trough urinals are arranged on the mezzanines (fourth image below). The toilet partitions are of the same pink marble visible in the Office Building lobby. The wall systems for these mezzanine toilets are constructed of plate steel with a rivet and bolt attachment to a truss structure. At the top of the panels Is an opening which allows views into the assembly area below.
Virtually all of the structural steel in the Assembly Building appears to be in sound condition. It has been well maintained and painted. The rivets and bolts appear secure. The floor, which is concrete, is largely intact but scarring, cracks, holes, and curbs are apparent. There are two gravity slides visible from the adjoining warehouse building near the roof of the east side of the Assembly Building.
The exterior of the Assembly Building is brick. From north to south the elevation has been divided into 20-foot bays. Each bay is separated by a brick pier of the same architectural design as the Office Building. The entire west elevation including the Office Building contains 47 bays, associated with column lines twenty feet on center. Between columns 10 and II, at the junction of the Assembly Building with the Office Building, is a brick pavilion formed by extending the brick piers two feet higher than the adjoining roof. Centered near the top of these piers or pylons are red or green decorative tiles. Spanning the top is a stone coping, under which is a spandrel with a decorative arrangement of colored tiles similar to that seen on the Office Building. Between these pylons Is a wood and glass double door and a glass transom. The doors are wide enough to accommodate vehicular entrance to the Assembly Building, The bases of the pylons are protected with bullet-shaped cast iron wheel-guards. This pavilion arrangement is repeated between column lines 16 and 17, 24 and 25, 32 and 33, 40 and 41, and again at the extreme south of the building between 4Q and 47, making a total of six pavilions with carriage doors.
The rest of the bays are indicated with smaller three and one half foot piers with the same decorative tile centered near the top. The decorative tile work is repeated along the entire western side of the Assembly Building. Above the brick sill are steel sash windows with operable panels. The sash assembly is ten feet high by sixteen feet long and is repeated at every bay. The unusually large amount of window opening gives an exceptional lightness to what otherwise might be a very long and heavy elevation.
The articulation of the piers and pylons at the 20-foot interval reestablishes and emphasizes the classical detailing apparent in the Office Building. The decorative tile and colored tile inserts provide additional design and relief from the monotony of the building on the "public front." The sawtooth monitors are not apparent from the front of the building, since they are set back almost ninety feet from the front or western wall. The brick work appears to be in fairly good condition. The steel sash appears to be only slightly damaged, with broken panes, painted lights, and some corrosion. The electric mechanism which operates the windows is not functioning.
The decorative arrangement of the western facade of the Assembly Building is simple and restrained. Although the facade is without frivolity and needless expense, it presents a dignified and prosperous face to the public. The northern elevation of the Assembly Building repeats some of the elements of the western elevation or side. However, this elevation is far more utilitarian. With the exception of a single decorative pavilion with a carriage entrance at the extreme east which duplicates the pavilions on the west, there is no other decorative tile. Here, of course, the bases are slightly wider, which allows even more light to penetrate the Assembly Building through the operable steel sash. There are additional vehicular entrances to the Assembly Building, but these are not indicated by any clear change in the elevation elements.
An addition to the Assembly Building has been made at this north end. This Dynamometer Building, built ca. 1950, is without architectural distinction. Subsequent users after the Ford Motor Company have partitioned this space into offices and laboratories.
TRUSS DETAIL - TRIM CONVEYOR AREA. VIEW TO WEST-NORTHWEST.
SKYLIGHTS - ROOF DETAIL, LOOKING EAST TOWARD SECOND FLOOR WAREHOUSE FROM ROOF OF ASSEMBLY AREA.
OVERHEAD TOILET, SHOWER, CHANGE ROOM STRUCTURE. VIEW TO NORTH-NORTHEAST.
SHOWER AND URINALS, OVERHEAD TOILET STRUCTURE ABOVE ROOF PANEL STORAGE AREA. VIEW TO SOUTH-SOUTHWEST.
Interior Rail Spur and Assembly Area
Interior Assembly Building
Interior Assembly Building 2
Interior Assembly Building 3
Assembly Building Interior/Exterior
Assembly Building Plans
Assembly Building Plans 2
Assembly Building Plans 3
Assembly Building and Boiler House Plans