This is the third in a series of posts about the adaptive reuse of Nabisco buildings around the country. The quality of construction and the location of these properties make them ideal focal-points for urban revitalization.
Los Angeles is noted not only for its glitz and glitter, but also for its “Gone in 60 Seconds” focus on the latest trends and fads. So it’s refreshing to see that a seven-story Nabisco bakery, built in 1925,
is now the Biscuit Company Lofts, an adaptive-reuse building conversion. The original 187,000 square foot building was the West Coast headquarters of the National Biscuit Company (Nabisco) for much of the 20th century; then served as a clothing manufacturing facility.
With the city of Los Angeles’ residential growth in the first two decades of the 20th century, there was a need for industry and jobs. The LA Chamber of Commerce undertook a multiyear project that surveyed industrial potential and contacted industrial leaders throughout the U.S. According to an LA Times article in 1925, they showed officials of the National Biscuit Company “how they could profitably operate such a plant here, distributing their products to the entire western territory from Los Angeles more economically than from any other point on the coast.” The company’s executives responded and according to an undated Los Angeles newspaper article believed that “the purpose of the National Biscuit Company when it first projected this Los Angeles enterprise [was] to erect on the property selected one of the finest and best-equipped bakery plants in the world.” There were two bakery plants within the building, one for the range of sweetened and unsweetened biscuits and another on the seventh floor dedicated to varieties of sugar wafers.
Located in a neighborhood that has transformed from turn-of-the century Victorian residences, to a bustling industrial, office, and retail district in the 1920s, to a neglected area of disrepair in the late 20th century, Biscuit Company Lofts is part of a redevelopment movement to revitalize abandoned industrial structures into work-live lofts.
In 2007, the building was renovated and converted into 104 residential condominiums and one retail space. The quality of original construction allowed the reuse of many period materials. One-inch maple floors, terrazzo tile, industrial-size bronze windows, sandblasted brickwork, brass lamps, copper doors, and two original Otis freight elevators were incorporated into the new design. The large factory-floor plates are now part of the residential plan of corridors and hallways that accommodate the residential units.
In 2007, LA’s Office of Historic Resources declared the building an historic cultural monument. In 2009, the LA Conservancy announced that the Biscuit Company Lofts was one of the winners of its Preservation Awards for its “adaptive reuse of a 1925 industrial building (that) renewed a neglected historic resource while anchoring a vibrant new community in the Arts District of downtown Los Angeles.”
Next up, we’ll take a look at the adaptive reuse of a Nabisco building in Houston and how it helps the revitalization of the surrounding community.