The Paint Factory: Not just a new coat of paint

An enlightened A/E firm is spurring redevelopment in an old industrial section of Little Rock.

November 18, 2019 |
The Paint Factory exterior

The reconstruction of the Paint Factory, built in 1947, creates a mixed-use development that has been a catalyst for new construction in the surrounding community. All photos: Ken West Photography.

The Paint Factory reimagines Little Rock’s oldest remaining industrial complex as a neighborhood called East Village, a mixed-use redevelopment of a factory that now includes a restaurant (Catshead Diner), apartments (12 Star Flats), a community space (The Mixing Room), and a new HQ for the project’s designer.

Formerly the Stebbins and Roberts building, built in 1947, it housed Sterling Paint until the early 2000s. The reconstruction retained many original building features, including exposed concrete structural columns and board-formed concrete. Original steel windows were repaired and repainted, masonry cleaned, and large openings filled with matching brick.

The project team invested heavily in infrastructure improvements to reduce localized flooding that effectively cut off neighborhoods and businesses around East Village from the rest of the city during heavy rain events.

 

Interior of the Paint Factory redesign

 

The project is pursuing LEED Platinum certification. Among its sustainable design: the state’s first solar skylights and pollution-reducing roof. New skylights were cut through the roof and second floor to light the central collaboration zone in the main studio. The air and data systems are distributed under raised flooring so that the board-formed concrete slab above the studio would not be obscured.

When the building was under construction, there were no codes for seismic force resistance and protection, and best practices were deemed too expensive. The project team’s solution was to position new shear walls at strategic locations and tie back some steel members to the existing structure to improve resistance capacity.

Cromwell Architects Engineers, which purchased the building in 2015, is known for its community advocacy. The firm has been working with its partners to give East Village an identity that sets the tone for future growth. Since the development of The Paint Factory, $75 million worth of new construction has flowed into the area.

 

GOLD AWARD WINNER

BUILDING TEAM Cromwell Architects Engineers (submitting firm, owner, architect, SE, MEP) Newman Moses Tucker Partners (developer) Central Construction Group (GC) DETAILS 50,000 sf Total cost $7.9 million Construction time October 2016 to March 2018 Delivery method CM at risk

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