Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Most Beautiful Bus Storage Facility in the World Pt. 1

Sometimes living in Indianapolis is hard. When one is emotionally moved by the visual aesthetic of their surroundings, it can be downright painful. Take, for example, the current state of the Coca Cola Bottling Company building at 858 Massachusetts Avenue. It's a fine illustration of the urban war wounds an architectural empath must endure, when traveling through Downtown Indy.

The first section of the Coca Cola Bottling Company building was built in 1931 and designed by prominent Indianapolis architects Rubush & Hunter. It housed a state-of-the-art bottling facility that churned-out bottle after glass-bottle of the Classic, for thirsty midwesterners. After an expansion in 1940, it was said to be the largest facility of its kind in the world. It was certainly one of the most beautiful.

The building's facade is primarily terra cotta, and slathered in classic Art Deco ornament. An abstracted fountain motif and floral arrangement are prominent, repeated via the terra cotta, and in iron as well. The building's original signage uses a Modern sans-serif typeface, inset into the terra cotta and accented with brilliant gold. The typeface may have been both designed by the architects, and unique to the building, as that was common practice at the time.

The Coca Cola Bottling Company building is an enduring jewel of the Art Deco movement, just one of a handful in the Indianapolis area. It was a great source of pride for the residents of Indianapolis for almost 40 years.

(to be continued in Part 2)


The Urbanophile said...

What an astonishing building indeed. Alas, I'm not looking forward to part two.

I've looked at aerials of the lot. That bus lot is huge. There is tremendous opportunity to replace this with a good 500 housing units plus commercial space. That would be an amazing anchor to the northeast end of Mass Ave.

Kevin said...

Awesome. Art Deco rules.

thundermutt said... the current tax climate, IPS must be able to sell this property for enough to pay for constructing a replacement facility.

Another consideration is centrality and access...the present site is close to the geographic center of the IPS district, and has the advantage of Interstate on and off ramps.

It will be hard to dislodge IPS from the site, and the scary part of that is they don't treat landmarks very well (which is to say, they neglect landmarks until ready for demolition).

SpeedBlue47 said...

There is good news though. Apparently Superintendent Eugene White is looking closely at a new report that says that IndyGo could provide bus services for a 13,000 (middle and high school) kids at 22% of the cost. This may be a large enough reduction in the need for buses(which could be sold) and they would therefore entertain thoughts of moving to a much smaller facility, and consider offers for private development.

That would be a huge boon for the city, especially the northern section of Mass Ave in downtown. The options are almost limitless with this building, and the property value could skyrocket. Hopefully this would give the city a shot in the arm to further improve infrastructure and essential services in the area. Someone should send a letter to Mr. White and someone on the CCC, maybe Mayor Ballard himself. I'm going to have a Area of Opportunity post for this site in the near future.

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Travis said...

The IPS is looking to trade the property for another location and almost had one developer committed just as the recession hit. I was just there on friday and they stated that the site works great for their distribution needs, but not the surrounding community.
My sophomore urban planning class just started a project for this site. On our tour the interior was in great shape and will definitely allow for severa adaptive reuse options. The smaller warehouses on-site also are in great shape and had a great feel to them on the interior.