At first this 6,000 square foot 1950s era building in Downtown Albuquerque seemed an unlikely candidate for adaptive reuse by a company called the Levitated Toy Factory, but now it is a place for digital exploration, education, and the fabrication of the next generation of toys.
“The project intent and challenge was to bring spiritual levity to this building, to make it a vessel for inspired human occupation, interaction and creativity,” said designer Devendra Narayan Contractor of DNCA – Devendra Narayan Contractor Architects.
The building — which was originally designed by architect William Ellison as the Albuquerque Journal’s headquarters — had been sitting unnoticed after decades of use and under layers of shag carpet and sheetrock wall finishes. However, the building still had good bones.
To make this 21st Century toy factory come to life, owners Jared and Laurie Tarbell, requested a show room and sales area, education and meeting spaces, offices, possible incubator tenant spaces, fabrication and assembly areas, storage, and appropriate support spaces. In addition, the Tarbells wanted the adaptive reuse of the building to meet the goals of the 2030 District and exceed USGBC sustainable criteria.
The existing structural steel and original brick infill were purposefully maintained, while the shell was improved to meet current structural code requirements and the performance of the building envelope was significantly enhanced. All electrical needs, including 3-D printing and laser cutting labs, are met through the 22.5 kw solar panel canopy along the perimeter of the building.
“The design solution also brings natural light into the heart of the building and breathes life and vitality into the city core,” added Contractor.
DCNA has been recognized for its work on the Levitated Toy Factory, winning the AIA Albuquerque’s 2014 Honor Award for Remodel/Adaptive Use and a 2015 Jeff Harnar Citation Award for Contemporary Architecture.
Project Name: Levitated Toy Factory
Construction Date: 2014
Architect: DNCA LLC – Devendra N. Contractor, AIA
(original building: William Ellison)
Contractor: Insight Construction
Address: 700 Silver Avenue SW (map)
Photos courtesy of DNCA. Kirk Gittings Photographer (above) Patrick Coulie Photographer (below).