Coca-Cola Building

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Built in 1939 and expanded upon twice since then, the 38,000 square foot[1]Coca Cola Building on Preston Avenue is an individually-protected property. [2][3] It is being redeveloped by Riverbend Development with new tenants such as Kardinal Beer Hall & Garden and Blue Ridge Cyclery. As many as eight tenants are envisioned. [4]

This structure is not to be confused with the Coca-Cola Bottling Works, another of Charlottesville's protected buildings.

Tenants

History

The Charlottesville Coca-Cola Bottling Company building on Preston Avenue is one of but a small handful of examples of the Art Deco style in Charlottesville. The two-story, rectangular, reinforced-concrete building is faced with brick and features a one-story rear addition also in Art Deco style, plus much latter additions behind that. This highly visible and well-designed building demonstrates the importance that the Coca-Cola Company placed in self-marketing through its architecture. It stands today as one of Charlottesville’s most prominent mid 20th century industrial buildings.

The original front section of the Coca-Cola Bottling Company building has a flat roof with a parapet decorated by cast-stone coping. The asymmetrical façade once featured large plate-glass shop windows on the first floor that allowed the bottling operation to be viewed by the passing public. The building contains architectural features of the Art Deco, although somewhat restrained in their use. These include cast stone lintels and coping as well as an entrance highlighted by alternating vertical rows of flat bricks in a two-story corbelled pattern that recede to the doorway. The second floor contains a small window above which is a large cast stone parapet bearing the Coca-Cola brand “signature” and identification of the building as a “Bottling Company”. The right and left sides of the building are less decorative as its original one-story addition.

The original portion of the Charlottesville Coca-Cola Bottling Company building was constructed in 1939. The architect/builder for the new building was Davis & Platt, Incorporated. Doran S. Platt was likely the actual designer of the building. The building is one of the best preserved examples of the simplified use of the Art Deco style in the region. The Art Deco style, which was popular for commercial buildings of the early to mid-20th century, generally emphasized smooth wall surfaces with the application of stylized geometric forms. Considering the well thought-out marketing plans that the Coca-Cola Company employed, it is not surprising that they would have wanted to build using the most up-to-date architectural styles of the period.

The original use of large plate-glass windows on the front of this building signifies a departure from traditional designs of manufacturing facilities where production processes were concealed from the public. By placing this modern building within a residential neighborhood and allowing the bottling of Coca-Cola to be clearly visible to the passer-by, the Coca-Cola Company was using its architecture as a marketing device. A survey of known Coca-Cola Bottling facilities of the same period in the region shows that many other buildings of this type also contained large storefront windows on the first floor to display the bottling production. It appears that Davis & Platt used a similar but reversed design for the Winchester Coca-Cola Bottling Works (they used the word “works” in their name instead of “company”) the following year in 1940. Several other similar facilities reportedly exist including one in Frederick, MD; Silver Spring, MD; Romney, WV; and Williamsport, PA. Their “signature” design seems to include the stepped corbelled entry, use of a large marquis, often with the Coca-Cola signature, and the use of brick walls with cast-stone detailing. The Frederick, MD, facility may be an exact copy. The Winchester facility has been vacant since 2006/07. The Romney facility was vacated and later purchased in 2003 and renovated as a cultural arts and history center by Grove & Dall’Olio (304-267-2120.

The architect/builder for the new building was Davis & Platt, Incorporated. Doran S. Platt (1884-1965) was a partner in this contracting firm. Platt, a native of Takoma Park, Maryland, was educated at McKinley Technical High School and George Washington University in Washington. Takoma Park, located on the eastern boundary of the District, was one of Washington’s first suburbs. Platt was purportedly the first baby born in the newly established community, and his father was one of the founders of the town. Platt appeared in the 1926 Washington, D. C. directory as “architect” and later as “building contractor.” In 1930 he was working in a partnership as Davis & Platt, Builders, Inc. The Davis and Platt building firm is mentioned in histories of that community where Pratt lived his entire life. One of the historic houses in the community is attributed to him. He continued to live and work in Takoma Park even after the business relocated to Silver Spring, Maryland, in 1949. No information on Platt’s partner, Davis, has been located[6].

Redevelopment

New life as a research center

On March 28, 2011, Indoor Biotechnologies announced plans to create a research center at the location, which could provide as many as 200 jobs. The company hopes to renovate the building and be in place within two years. that wsoon become a research center for Indoor Biotechnologies. [1] However, these plans never came to fruition.

Initial concerns about an unoccupied building

After Coca-Cola decided in August 2010 to move operations to a facility outside of Richmond, there was some speculation about its future[7] the building is slated to become unoccupied. The Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling Company announced in early August 10 that they planned to move operations to a facility outside of Richmond. Over 40 jobs were lost.


References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Web. Indoor Biotech has ambitious plans for Coca-Cola building, Daily Progress, World Media Enterprises, retrieved March 29, 2010.
  2. "Charlottesville : Architectural Design Control District and Individually Protected Property Information." Charlottesville : Home. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://www.charlottesville.org/Index.aspx?page=812>.
  3. Dixit, Rachana. "Sites Closer to Historic Designation | Daily Progress." Home | Daily Progress. 13 Aug. 2008. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://www2.dailyprogress.com/news/cdp-news-local/2008/aug/13/sites_closer_to_historic_designation-ar-66284/>
  4. Web. Coca-Cola building gets another tenant, Ana Mir, Charlottesville Tomorrow, October 26, 2014, retrieved October 28, 2014.
  5. Web. The Kardinal has landed: Beer Run team debuts new beer garden, Laura Ingles, October 16, 2015, retrieved October 23, 2015.
  6. Meeks, Steven G. Charlottesville Coca-Cola Bottling Company. Rep. Albemarle Charlottesville Historical Society. Charlottesville Tomorrow's Document Archive. Web. 17 Aug. 2010. <http://www.cvilletomorrow.org/docs/20100802-Meeks-on-Coca-Cola.pdf>.
  7. Dixit, Rachana. "What Will Become of Old Coca-Cola Building? | Daily Progress." Home | Daily Progress. 9 Aug. 2010. Web. 10 Aug. 2010. <http://www2.dailyprogress.com/business/2010/aug/08/what-will-become-old-coca-cola-building-ar-418125/>.

External links

Official site