Ford Long Beach Assembly Plant Pressed Steel Building
In July of 1930, the Albert Kahn office prepared drawings for a 41,280 square foot addition to the Assembly Plant. This new Pressed Steel Building extends the Warehouse Building to the north, 480 feet (first picture below). The north-south structure continues the structural system, set up in the rest of the building, of 20-foot bays. In the east-west direction, the building is divided into two 43-foot bays. The architectural drawings indicate that elements on the north elevation of the Warehouse Building, such as the railroad doors and two other vehicular entrances, were saved and re-used in the new north elevation of the Pressed Steel Building. By extending the Warehouse Building, the new Pressed Steel Building encloses an additional 480 feet of railroad tracks which penetrated the Warehouse 100 feet. The new floor, which was originally covered with wood block, is level with the Warehouse Building and the Assembly Building situated to the west.
This original exterior wall of the Assembly Building, on the east side adjacent to the new Pressed Steel Building, has been removed, and the structure is exposed as it is throughout the entire facility. According to the drawings, it was the intention of the architect that 20 of the existing overhead roll-up doors from the Assembly Building be re-used in the new east facade of the Steel Building, The result is that there is a seamless integration of the Pressed Steel Building to the existing Warehouse. The appearance and details of the roll-up doors and the steel sashes are identical.
Unlike the Warehouse Building, the Pressed Steel addition is one story. The building rises 36 feet, to a hip roof of corrugated asbestos, which rises to a central peak of 49 feet. As in the Warehouse Building, the central line of columns in concert with the perimeter structure, support one five-ton crane in both 43-foot bays. The structural assembly for the cranes is the same as in the Warehouse Building, supported on brackets with rails.
The structural system appears to be tied to and an extension of the light-weight steel structure of the entire facility. Albert Kahn's ability to maintain long spans, open floor area, and structural integrity in all directions provides without a doubt an extraordinary structural and functional flexibility to the facility.
At the intersection between the Pressed Steel Building and the Warehouse Building is the existing elevator shaft (second image below). This brick structure, rising to a height of 70 feet, is unaffected by the addition. In fact, the addition may have resulted in making the elevator more central to operations. The Pressed Steel Building also incorporates two new mezzanine-level toilet facilities of similar design to the existing facilities throughout the plant. There appears to be the addition of a gang-shower facility in one of the toilet facilities.
In the years of its active use, the Pressed Steel facility has been altered to reflect changes in the management, organization, and function of the plant. A lunchroom or cafeteria facility, which appears to date from the time of Ford's operation of the plant, together with a kitchen, pantry and store-room, exists in the extreme north-east corner of the Pressed Steel Building (third photo below). The overhead doors suggest that in fine weather the facility could extend onto the dock to allow the workers to dine al fresco. A cafe of more recent use exists at the north end of the Assembly Building, to the west of the sunken railroad tracks. Other recent additions include a car-painting facility, which post-dates Ford. The original drawings indicate that two additional railroad track lines extend across the Ford property, onto the docking facility to the east of the Pressed Steel Building and the Warehouse.
PRESSED STEEL BUILDING IN FOREGROUND - OVERALL SOUTH ELEVATION FROM STORAGE SHED D, SHOWING SHOP A, CRANE, SIGN STRUCTURE, AND WATER TOWER. NOTE TOWERS OF BRIDGE BEHIND PLANT.
FREIGHT ELEVATOR AT INTERSECTION OF PRESSED STEEL BUILDING AND WAREHOUSE. VIEW TO SOUTH-SOUTHWEST.
LUNCH ROOM ALONGSIDE SUNKEN RAIL SPUR, NORTH END OF PLANT.
Dec 27, 1931, INTERIOR-PRESSED STEEL BUILDING, EAST SIDE FACING NORTH, SHOWING MACHINERY, CONVEYOR LINES, AND RAILROAD CARS