Welcome to Electric Works! Design Collaborative is thrilled that what was once the General Electric campus will soon be completely transformed into Electric Works. The redevelopment will give new life to the historic buildings, currently in a state of urban decay. The potential is endless – retail, housing, entertainment, local markets, office space, and more – and the excitement is contagious for what the campus could become.
Exploring Other Success Stories
As part of the design team – along with Elevatus Architecture, Engineering Resources, Hoch Associates, MSKTD & Associates, MartinRiley, SCO Engineering, Viridian Architectural Design, Anderson + Bohlander, and Ferguson Advertising – we’ve spent a lot of time learning about the existing buildings, as well as learning about how other similarly historic campuses in Baltimore, Durham, and St. Louis were rejuvenated. Seeing firsthand how these cities have completely reinvented similar aging campuses and reinvigorated the neighborhoods they’re in has been very inspiring for the design team!
In Baltimore, the team visited three developments, including Clipper Mill. The Clipper Mill campus has indoor and outdoor entertainment spaces, a restaurant, office spaces, and retail space. There is a modern but rustic vibe, with an honest expression of the materials used.
In Durham, we visited the American Tobacco Campus. This site, due to its size, scope, and historic nature, is the closest development to what Electric Works will become. Inside, there are office, retail, and event spaces, housing, and some offices and research facilities for multiple universities. A water feature runs through the center of the site, creating moments for relaxation in a bustling site.
In St. Louis, we visited the Cortex development, and specifically, the Cambridge Innovation Center. The building houses spaces for many start-ups. With so many start-ups in one location, potential investors can come and easily get to know a number of entrepreneurs with new and innovative ideas and products in one trip. The concept of a start-up community in one space is a relatively new but successful one.
Celebrate the Past; Build for the Future
The campus will be called Electric Works to honor the original use of the buildings. This was the name of the campus from 1899 to 1911. It was then absorbed into General Electric and known as Fort Wayne Electric Works of General Electric. In 1915, it was renamed Fort Wayne Works of General Electric.
In an effort to preserve the historic character of the campus, the design team has been working with a consultant to establish tax credits. For example, we’ve been looking at some of the later building additions from approximately the 1980s and 1990s and making sure that it’s appropriate to demolish them so the original structures can stand alone. Another example would be the buildings’ character-defining steel windows; many have been replaced over the years or are in need of extensive repair. Finding the right products to install in the renovated buildings is important so that it matches the original look of the campus, but is safe and modern.
The Electric Works design team is currently test fitting programs into the buildings of the Electric Works campus. We’re working with the developers to see how their vision for the campus works with the existing buildings. Time is being spent on planning the overall feel for the east and west campus, and bringing the developers’ detailed vision to life. Part of that vision is making sure that the raw materials and the history of the buildings shines through in the end experience. Everyone is committed to ensuring the culture and history of the GE campus inspires the future of Electric Works.
A Bright Future for Electric Works
An example of what Electric Works could mean for our city was described to me on the design team’s visit to Baltimore. We visited a development that was purchased during an economic decline. The developer wanted additional acreage in their purchase, but their budget didn’t allow for it, so the land was sold to another buyer.
Several years later, the developer that originally wanted the land ended up purchasing it. The development that had occurred in those intervening years had significantly impacted the surrounding area, and developers wanted to continue to improve and beautify the area. If Electric Works follows a similar path, the possibilities are unimaginable for Fort Wayne – our core, and its surrounding neighborhoods.
Follow the progress of Electric Works here.
Rachel Vedder LEED AP
Senior Associate, Architect