flexiblefullpage
billboard
interstitial1
catfish1
Currently Reading

From power plant to office: Ambler Boiler House conversion

From power plant to office: Ambler Boiler House conversion

The shell of a 19th-century industrial plant is converted into three levels of modern office space. 


By Julie Higginbotham, Senior Editor | October 9, 2013
Located adjacent to a regional rail stop and near good roads, Ambler Boiler Hous
Located adjacent to a regional rail stop and near good roads, Ambler Boiler House spent years as an abandoned, dilapidated industrial building. It now offers 48,000 sf of office space in a LEED Platinum facility. Photo: Don Pearse

Like many 19th-century industrial facilities, the Ambler Boiler House long ago outlived its initial use. Built in 1897 to generate power for an asbestos plant, the structure was abandoned when the owner folded after the Depression. In the early 2000s, Summit Realty Advisors bought the site, appreciating its proximity to a rail stop—Philadelphia is 40 minutes away by train—as well as good roads and utility services.

The 2008 crash delayed plans, but three years later, construction of an office complex began. Summit used creative financing, including state and county funds, to realize this speculative project in tough economic times.

Asbestos was remediated with the help of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and state grants and loans. The endeavor required 760 man-hours of labor and the removal of 530 cubic yards of contaminated construction debris and waste. All that remained was a brick shell and steel roof trusses.

AMBLER BOILER HOUSE
Ambler, Pa.

 
Building Team 
Submitting firm: Heckendorn Shiles Architects 
Owner/developer: Summit Realty Advisors 
Owner’s representative: The AT Group 
Structural engineer: Elton & Thompson 
MEP engineer: PHY Engineers 
General contractor: Domus
 
General Information 
Size: 48,000 sf 
Construction cost: $16 million (core and shell) 
Construction time: 2011 to August 2013 
Delivery method: Design-bid-build

The former two-story plan entailed excessive floor-to-floor heights for offices, so the Building Team, led by Heckendorn Shiles Architects, inserted structural steel and concrete slabs to create three levels. Entryways and windows, many of which had been walled up, were reopened and infilled with high-efficiency store-front glazing. An iconic 140-foot smokestack was retained, and the original monitor roof profile, now equipped with translucent composite clerestories, enhances daylighting. Loft-style office spaces are characterized by references to the past, including exposed brick and reclaimed wood. However, the infrastructure is thoroughly modern. In particular, a 54-well geothermal system makes the building economical to operate, contributing to a LEED Platinum designation.

Since it opened in August 2012, the development has attracted a mix of tenants, including Summit Realty, Clutch (a mobile app designer), and AEC firm Core States Group. DiD, a boutique healthcare marketing agency, recently completed a two-story fit-out, with an open communicating stair and a “village green” common space. Ambler Boiler House—first an economic engine, then an eyesore—is most emphatically back in business.

Related Stories

Student Housing | Jun 20, 2024

How student housing developments are evolving to meet new expectations

The days of uninspired dorm rooms with little more than a bed and a communal bathroom down the hall are long gone. Students increasingly seek inclusive design, communities to enhance learning and living, and a focus on wellness that encompasses everything from meditation spaces to mental health resources.

Museums | Jun 20, 2024

Connecticut’s Bruce Museum more than doubles its size with a 42,000-sf, three-floor addition

In Greenwich, Conn., the Bruce Museum, a multidisciplinary institution highlighting art, science, and history, has undergone a campus revitalization and expansion that more than doubles the museum’s size. Designed by EskewDumezRipple and built by Turner Construction, the project includes a 42,000-sf, three-floor addition as well as a comprehensive renovation of the 32,500-sf museum, which was originally built as a private home in the mid-19th century and expanded in the early 1990s. 

Building Technology | Jun 18, 2024

Could ‘smart’ building facades heat and cool buildings?

A promising research project looks at the possibilities for thermoelectric systems to thermally condition buildings, writes Mahsa Farid Mohajer, Sustainable Building Analyst with Stantec.

University Buildings | Jun 18, 2024

UC Riverside’s new School of Medicine building supports team-based learning, showcases passive design strategies

The University of California, Riverside, School of Medicine has opened the 94,576-sf, five-floor Education Building II (EDII). Created by the design-build team of CO Architects and Hensel Phelps, the medical school’s new home supports team-based student learning, offers social spaces, and provides departmental offices for faculty and staff. 

Healthcare Facilities | Jun 18, 2024

A healthcare simulation technology consultant can save time, money, and headaches

As the demand for skilled healthcare professionals continues to rise, healthcare simulation is playing an increasingly vital role in the skill development, compliance, and continuing education of the clinical workforce.

Mass Timber | Jun 17, 2024

British Columbia hospital features mass timber community hall

The Cowichan District Hospital Replacement Project in Duncan, British Columbia, features an expansive community hall featuring mass timber construction. The hall, designed to promote social interaction and connection to give patients, families, and staff a warm and welcoming environment, connects a Diagnostic and Treatment (“D&T”) Block and Inpatient Tower.

Concrete Technology | Jun 17, 2024

MIT researchers are working on a way to use concrete as an electric battery

Researchers at MIT have developed a concrete mixture that can store electrical energy. The researchers say the mixture of water, cement, and carbon black could be used for building foundations and street paving.

Codes and Standards | Jun 17, 2024

Federal government releases national definition of a zero emissions building

The U.S. Department of Energy has released a new national definition of a zero emissions building. The definition is intended to provide industry guidance to support new and existing commercial and residential buildings to move towards zero emissions across the entire building sector, DOE says.

Multifamily Housing | Jun 14, 2024

AEC inspections are the key to financially viable office to residential adaptive reuse projects

About a year ago our industry was abuzz with an idea that seemed like a one-shot miracle cure for both the shockingly high rate of office vacancies and the worsening housing shortage. The seemingly simple idea of converting empty office buildings to multifamily residential seemed like an easy and elegant solution. However, in the intervening months we’ve seen only a handful of these conversions, despite near universal enthusiasm for the concept. 

Healthcare Facilities | Jun 13, 2024

Top 10 trends in the hospital facilities market

BD+C evaluated more than a dozen of the nation's most prominent hospital construction projects to identify trends that are driving hospital design and construction in the $67 billion healthcare sector. Here’s what we found.

boombox1
boombox2
native1

More In Category


Museums

Connecticut’s Bruce Museum more than doubles its size with a 42,000-sf, three-floor addition

In Greenwich, Conn., the Bruce Museum, a multidisciplinary institution highlighting art, science, and history, has undergone a campus revitalization and expansion that more than doubles the museum’s size. Designed by EskewDumezRipple and built by Turner Construction, the project includes a 42,000-sf, three-floor addition as well as a comprehensive renovation of the 32,500-sf museum, which was originally built as a private home in the mid-19th century and expanded in the early 1990s. 



halfpage1

Most Popular Content

  1. 2021 Giants 400 Report
  2. Top 150 Architecture Firms for 2019
  3. 13 projects that represent the future of affordable housing
  4. Sagrada Familia completion date pushed back due to coronavirus
  5. Top 160 Architecture Firms 2021