Making Space: Feasibility of Urban Manufacturing through Shared Resources
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Urban manufacturing has adapted steadily through the years according to technological advances and market shifts, and yet the current state of this job sector is seeing more dynamic growth and transformation recently. Many urban centers are seeing population increases as well as dramatic job growth. The resulting growth is winnowing the supply of industrial spaces within the city. Industrial zoning often cannot compete with other use types such as housing or office, which in turn will pay higher prices for land and properties. Zoning restrictions preserve industrial spaces, for the most part, allowing for manufacturing jobs to remain in the city. But due to code exceptions that have large allowances for retail and office space much of urban industrial zoning is not used for manufacturing. Manufacturing is changing. What was simply about production is finding further specialization. Advanced manufacturers – “companies that design and build products that incorporate digital manufacturing technologies and/or advanced materials1” – have seen a doubling in job growth. With jobs employed mostly by engineers and designers, they are pulling from the same job pool as most high tech firms. As a comparison, 70% of jobs from more traditional manufacturers are held by people from lower-income households.2 The growth of traditional manufacturing companies is important for a city’s economic diversity. Traditional manufacturers have difficulty paying higher rent/land prices that advanced manufacturers can pay, further decreasing the available supply of space for traditional manufacturers within the city. Not only is there a change in demand within the industrial market there has been a large change in manufacturing processes which require both an update in zoning and in community perceptions. Manufacturing processes are lower impact and cleaner than ever before which reduces the need to isolate industrial zoning. Artisan, small-scale production relies heavily on consumer accessibility and feedback necessitating access to both peer industries and urban marketplaces. Even though spaces for manufacturing are facing increased demand from multiple uses, it remains important for today’s manufacturers to have access to spaces within the city that allow them to produce within proximity to consumers and to other manufacturers. Space must be provided for today’s industrial uses and market demands, re-imagining space built for historical uses. This thesis proposes the reuse of an existing warehouse site. The building is gutted and additional structure provides upper floors to allow for a density of spaces. The building is split in the middle by a 32’ interstitial space, allowing air, light, access and an organizational hierarchy for circulation and spaces throughout the building. Internally the building is made up of multiple overlapping spaces with several communal zones allowing for collaboration and community development. The internal walls are flexible frames that create soft boundaries as a way of blurring between individual spaces and which act as a scaffolding to allow flexibility and customization tailored to each tenant’s needs. The space can expand and contract as these manufacturing companies grow. The different ways that people customize the space creates character, ownership and a richness to the space. Further analysis of the project includes cost and revenue. The returns are further analyzed in an effort to estimate the worth and risk of a financial investment that results in taking on a unique project such as this.
- Architecture