Boots Factory

-Patricia Hazle & Alan Lucey

The Boots D10 ‘Wets’ factory in Nottingham, England by engineer, Owen Williams, was completed in 1932 for the manufacture of pharmaceutical goods. It is an outstanding example of the ‘daylight’ factory and was constructed on a scale that had not yet been seen in England: a result of American influence. Aberdeen Press & Journal referred to D10 as the “Wonder factory of glass” and forty years later the factory was described as “Britain’s Crystal Palace of the 20th century, and the most advanced piece of industrial architecture in Britain before the Second World War.” Williams believed that a factory was “a place protected from wind and weather where things, mostly unnecessary are made most efficiently.” The most significant element of the Boots factory is its vast open atrium above the main production space, which Williams’ justified through systems like chutes to transfer raw and finished materials from level to level. The factory is still being used today for its original industrial purpose: the manufacture of pharmaceutical products for the Boots Pure Drug Co.

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Van Nelle Factory

-Farah Joyner

The Van Nelle Factory, completed in 1931, was designed by Brinkman and van der Vlugt and built in phases to accommodate the production of tobacco, coffee, and tea. Considered a masterpiece of modern industrial architecture, the factory is entirely functionalist, with giant signage, separate buildings for specific purposes, an administration building that curves around to watch over the production halls, and various chutes added as needed to transport goods from building to building on site. It is important to note that factory no longer houses production, but has been carefully refurbished and maintained for re-appropriated office space use. Part of why the building is still successful in its reuse today is because of its image consciousness. At the time Van Nelle was constructed, it was extremely modern and sleek—an image of the future, and one that was miraculously preserved after the bombing raids that devastated Rotterdam during World War II.

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Fiat Lingotto Factory

-Derek Chang & James Joslin

The Fiat Lingotto factory was built in 1923 in Turin, Italy by engineer Giacomo Matte Trucco. It is significant that Giovanni Agnelli, one of Fiat’s founding members, visited the Ford Motor Company Plant in Highland Park in 1902 and 1912, where he drew influence that would directly translate into the Lingotto Plant. Lingotto employs steel concrete frame construction almost identical to the Kahn method used in Michigan, and incorporates concepts like linear or vertical production and the assembly line, all ideas drawn from earlier American factories. In direct opposition to Ford’s Highland Park, which utilizes gravity and large openings in the floor plate for the production of cars to flow from top levels down to the ground level, the Fiat factory began production on the ground floor, moving continuously upwards until the car was fed out, literally, onto a rooftop racetrack. The racetrack (which was never entirely functional) is both symbolic and monumental and a move Kahn’s extreme pragmatism would have been averse to. The factory is being used today as a sort of social, cultural center for Turin. Located at the final stop of the metro system, the factory now includes a shopping mall, art gallery, and three different hotels.

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New National Gallery

-Evan Bruetsch

The New National Gallery in the Kulturforum in Berlin, Germany was completed in 1968, and culminated the career of leading modernist architect Mies van der Rohe. Raised up on a type of plinth with a vast, open gallery space floating above the more conventional gallery space below, the building serves as a cultural beacon to the city. The gallery houses a collection of famous works from the Cubist, Expressionist, Bauhaus, and Surrealist movements. New National Gallery remains a monument to the revival of Berlin, to modernism, and to Mies van der Rohe’s immense and successful impact on the history of modern architecture in the 20th century. Mies’ study of factories like the Glen Martin assembly plant paved the way for the creation of this building, which represents the culmination of American influence on European modernism.

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AEG Turbine Hall

-Yun Yun

The AEG Factory for turbine production was completed in 1909 by architect and founder of the German Werkbund, Peter Behrens, in Berlin, Germany. Although the building was erected before the interwar period, it is absolutely essential in our study of European industrial modernism. Behrens uses a number of historical precedents to make a statement about the status of the factory and factory worker during the early 20th century. By placing a large temple-like plinth on the front of the factory and providing floor to ceiling windows, he in effect, elevates the status of the factory and places emphasis on the individual factory worker. He suggests that anyone, even the factory worker, should be able to experience architecture. With its strong masonry-looking concrete façade juxtaposed against the steel and glass façade on the sides reflects a sort of passage through time, the front looking towards precedent, and the rest looking towards the future. While we were unable to enter the factory, it is still being used today for the production of Turbine engines.

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