Winner of 2016 AIA Charlotte Award
Photos by Brad Overcash
In 1968, the Ford Body Company, a truck body fabrication business founded in 1917, built a grouping of pre-engineered metal buildings on the side of a sleepy dirt road. Years passed, times changed and the retirement of 3rd generation owner Lynn Ford marked an end to this stalwart Greensboro company.
Today’s Battleground Avenue is a thriving 6 lane thoroughfare. The owners of Mac’s Speed Shop, a restaurant founded in a love of motorcycles and great food, saw this blue collar edifice and knew it could be a temple honoring the past while entertaining today’s BBQ loving gear-heads.
This project is an effort to expose the under appreciated bones of a spartan building type. Painted steel cladding was peeled away to expose the red oxide structure. The overhead crane system, which for 35 years had conveyed truck bodies to and fro within this dusty hulk, are re-utilized as entry canopies and space makers. Concrete floors are simply “as they were”, stained with decades of molten slag, grease and a grinder spark patina.
Steel fabrication is evident throughout this architectural intervention. Windows, furniture, signage armatures and the entry door are all site fabricated and yes, the stacked dimes of a skilled welder are ever-evident.
Details & materials were exposed and celebrated through a removal of layers and a reduction in internal footprint. The original area of 15,560 square feet was morphed into 5,245 square feet of interior space and 2,962 of covered exterior. Shadows are cast by the building’s steel structure upon cars, trucks and motorcycles parked on a portion of the former shop floor. The former paint booth is now the kitchen. A huge front porch occupies the former location of the company’s front offices. This energized exterior space is a beacon for those who pass and offers a fantastic vista toward the skyline of downtown Greensboro.
Little was wasted in this re-use endeavor. The original building offered up plenty to insure its utilization as a familiar, yet redefined landmark.