Ford Long Beach Assembly Plant Warehouse Building
Flush with the south and east sides of the Assembly Building and Pressed Steel Building and extending eastward 85 feet is the two story Warehouse Building (first picture below). This building continues the pattern of structural bays established in the Assembly Building. The area of the Building is 74,800 square feet, with 37,400 on each floor. The original structural drawings indicated that the Warehouse extends beyond the original dike and is built on the new pier facility. To the east of the warehouse is the pier. Decades of subsidence are evident in the three successive sea-walls which protect the facility. From north to south the Warehouse Building extends for a total of 22 20-foot bays. Originally, on the north end was a tall folding door to allow the penetration of railroad cars into the facility. The depressed railroad tracks, designed to keep the freight car floor level with the assembly floor, extends into the facility one hundred feet (second picture below). At the southern end of the Warehouse Building is the boiler-room and electric room, and, upstairs, various toilet facilities. There is also an enclosed staircase. At the north end, where the warehouse joins the Pressed Steel Building and the Assembly Building is a freight elevator.
Where the Warehouse Building joins with the Assembly Building, there are no partitions. Within the warehouse, Albert Kahn has increased the structural elements of the building. An additional column has been placed halfway in the center of each forty-foot bay, creating a structural bay of 20 feet by 43 feet. This structural system results in a line of columns running down the center of the Warehouse Building. These columns support both the second floor and the two five-ton cranes mounted on rails supported by brackets from the columns. The distance from the ground floor to the underside of the cranes is 24 feet, with an additional 11 feet to the underside of the second floor.
On the dock side of the Warehouse Building, each twenty-foot bay is defined by a brick pier similar in design to the rest of the building (third photo below). Between these piers is a vertical sliding vehicular door. All of these doors, which are wood and glass, were electrically operated at one time. When open, these doors would allow direct access from the pier, and presumably the barges alongside, to the warehouse. The floor in the warehouse is concrete, and is level with the dock. Original drawings indicate that this floor was paved with wood block.
On the first floor there is a continuous clerestory above the roof-line of the Assembly Building, where it abuts the Warehouse Building. Natural light is introduced to this vast space through the clerestory and through the glass lights In the roll-up doors, as well as through the clerestory above them.
The structural system, all of which is visible, is a series of 18 inch wide flange steel columns supporting three and one-half foot steel girders. Perpendicular to the girders are two-foot steel purlins, 11 feet on center. These support a poured concrete floor on which are end-cut redwood blocks. Many of these blocks are damaged or missing. The second floor of the Warehouse Building is clear span, with no central columns (fourth picture below). Spanning the 85-foot width of the Warehouse are two rolling five-foot cranes supported by rails and brackets on the exterior wall. The clear distance from the floor to the crane is 24-feet, with an additional seven feet two inches above the crane to the lower cord of the truss system which supports the roof. The roof itself Is sheathed with corrugated asbestos.
On the dock side of the Warehouse Building is a cantilevered deck, level with the second floor, 16 and one half feet wide (fifth picture below). A dilapidated metal stairwell is located at the north end of the deck connecting with the ground surface. This deck is supported by tapered cantilevered beams. Between each brick pier are overhead doors 12 feet tall by 16 feet wide. These wood and glass doors match those on the lower level. There are 20 of these roll-up doors on each level. On the long wall facing the Assembly Building are continuous steel sash windows, from a sill at six feet nine inches from the floor, rising almost continuously 19 feet. These windows run the entire length of the building, separated only by steel structural columns at 20-foot Intervals, The steel sash windows are continuous on the dock side of the building above the roll-up doors. Cross-bracing is evident in the three central bays of the structure.
The clear span of glass on both the east and west sides of the Warehouse Building, and the enormous scale of the structure, create an environment of remarkable beauty. The simplicity of the design and the elegance of the architectural detailing contribute to this effect.
While the long elevations of the Warehouse Building appear to be lightweight, the short ends are very substantial. The predominant material is brick, which matches the materials on the rest of the building. The aesthetic quality is decidedly a late nineteenth century American industrial style. The brick detailing is traditional, as are the discrete steel sash windows. The original architectural drawings indicate cross-bracing at the second level. It was clearly Albert Kahn's intention that these massive brick ends would serve as seismic shear. These ends are thoroughly tied to the rest of the steel structure, which conceptually serves as a rigid frame. It is without a doubt the inherent flexibility of the steel which has preserved the structural integrity of the building through several substantial earthquakes in the Long Beach area.
A nine-inch steel I-beam monorail runs around the outside of the entire Warehouse Building, about three feet above the header of the second story windows (first image below). The purpose of the monorail is unclear, but it may have included window-washing equipment or equipment rigging during major equipment installation or removal.
The Warehouse Building's steel framing was hidden behind the exterior curtainwall of brick, with extensive glass and steel fenestration. All exterior brick is sandy yellow, laid in common bond with virtually no decorative horizontal rows except at the decorative tile bands described above. On the long elevations the glass and steel windows on each floor cover more than half of the elevation. On the short sides, the somewhat undulating curtainwalls create a distinctive envelope for the building, with piers articulating rhythmic vertical proportions. A plain concrete frieze which doubles as a header over the steel sash windows is continued across the piers.
Although most of the electrical system is either gone or non-functional, there is evidence of an extensive array of elevated distribution and power cabinets stemming from an electrical room adjacent to the boiler room, situated at the southern end of the building. Power distributed in this network operated manufacturing equipment and motors to run the cranes, elevators, elevator fans, drive-in lift doors, and the movable monitor sash. Pairs of sash motors operated chained drive opening mechanisms. Most wiring was elevated under roof trusses, interior bridges, and ceiling beams.
It appears that all water consumed in the facility or used for manufacturing, heating, or fire protection, passed through the boiler room. Pipes are generally elevated within the Assembly Building, reaching sprinklers, toilet and washroom facilities.
A total of six overhead cranes were used for movement of equipment or large auto assembly components within the Warehouse Building. Two five-ton bridge cranes operated in each of the interior crane-ways, supported by 24-inch I-beams suspended 24-feet above the first floor. In addition to this equipment, there is a Gantry crane on the east side of the warehouse for the apparent purpose of unloading barges.
SOUTHEAST CORNER OF PLANT - WAREHOUSE, SHOWING BOILER STACK.
LOOKING SOUTH-SOUTHEAST ALONG SUNKEN RAIL SPUR TO BOILER ROOM AND FREIGHT ELEVATOR.
LOOKING EAST ACROSS INTERIOR RAIL SPUR NEAR FREIGHT ELEVATOR.
SECOND FLOOR WAREHOUSE, WITH CRANE AND WOODEN BLOCK FLOORING. VIEW TO NORTH.
Cantilevered deck on Warehouse Building.
Jun 18, 1930, INTERIOR-WAREHOUSE, 1ST FLOOR, STORAGE OF AUTOMOBILE COMPONENTS