A Brief History
by John Hinds, +architecture
Before the turn of the century, if you went food shopping you went to the baker, the butcher, the farmer, etc. In 1912 the first A&P Economy Store undercut the competition and revolutionized grocery shopping by creating the precursor to the supermarket and by 1930 had 15,000 small, efficient shops with basic food items run by one person. Today we call them convenience stores.
Larger supermarkets opened in the US in the 1930’s and A&P lost some market share, but eventually used their expertise in volume purchasing and transportation efficiency to keep prices low with much success. Dock 1053 was built in 1955 as a model of this efficiency. Food was shipped from all over the country to this warehouse and arrived by trains which pulled straight into the building via the big door now used to access Lynnwood Brewing’s biergarten. It was then sorted and stored in specific locations in the warehouse. Trucks would then line the loading dock to pick up orders from stores in the region. You can still see the yellow lines on the floor creating numbered rectangles for pallets of goods. The raised floor areas you see were where coolers and freezers were located. The black stuff on the brick walls in the courtyard is left-over mastic where cork insulation for the coolers was glued to the walls.
The original warehouse was two buildings separated by a stepped fire wall. Produce was stored on the Whitaker Mill side of the firewall; packaged goods on the Atlantic Side. Eggs had their own room where they were checked for fertility by candlelight and stored in a large adjacent cooler. You can still see that in the open area in the back of Loading Dock. When the fire code changed in the 1960’s to allow larger buildings with sprinklers, the end wall was literally busted out and an addition was added.
The warehouse offices, men’s locker rooms, and cafeterias were located in the only two-story section of the building on the Atlantic Avenue side. Unfortunately, in the south in the 1950’s segregation still existed, so there were two men’s bathrooms, two men’s locker rooms and two cafeterias. We were happy to eliminate this aspect of the project, but it is important to acknowledge its existence. The women’s locker room and bathrooms and the trucker’s bathrooms were located at the front corner of the building and you can still see some of the remains of those in Hummingbird.
The power, water and gas to run the building was housed in the boiler rooms. We ran all the new utilities where the old train track was located in the back of the building. A gas tank from the boiler room was cleaned out and repurposed as way finding signage and planter at the front corner and a large piece of electrical equipment was reimagined by Glas and now hangs in the Whitaker Mill side entry. You can see all of this on the old floorplans on the Trig Modern side of that hallway.
Although the design process was very complicated, we eventually landed on a relatively simple concept. We hope you like it.