This former fruit packing warehouse located in downtown Healdsburg was slated for demolition to make way for an enlarged parking lot. A small citizen’s group rallied for preserving the building, after which our design team was asked to work with the City and community groups to explore multiple options… with the primary objective of accommodating the local farmers market, parking, concerts and other civic events.
Originally constructed in 1922, the building facing North Street floats on a three-foot-high concrete plinth that originally allowed trucks and horse drawn wagons to load and unload apples, stone fruit and grapes. Inside, a series of delicate roof trusses march through the space, creating a large open volume well suited to a variety of events.
With help from architect and Healdsburg resident Alan B. Cohen and Andrea Cochran Landscape Architecture, our team explored 3 distinctly different design schemes – two replaced the building with new open canopy structures, and one repurposed the existing structure. Change takes time – and on this project, an intense public participatory process stretched out for two years. None of these design approaches fully met the objectives of all of the interest groups; in particular, the elevated plinth presented operational challenges to the farmers market.
PEELING BACK HISTORY
With the community divided on whether to save or repurpose the building, the design team originated an eleventh-hour design concept in an attempt to avoid demolition of the structure in favor of parking. This concept dismantles, then reconstructs the front half of the existing structure so that parking, farmers market, and other functions are at grade. The rear of the structure is preserved at its original, elevated height, and serves as a semi-enclosed event center. The original roof trusses are preserved, with vining plants providing shade. The front façade material is replaced with multiple layers of wire mesh – recalling the original façade while providing transparency and a closer connection to the streetscape.
A STRUCTURE FIT FOR ALL
The community rallied around the concept when they saw how a striking architectural approach could address all of the community’s needs without compromise. Ultimately the Planning Commission and City Council all agreed that this unique solution would provide a valuable asset to Healdsburg’s evolving downtown. The City of Healdsburg is currently exploring funding for the project.