The ASM International World Headquarters, originally constructed in 1959, is an architectural composition by two influential designers during the mid-twentieth century: John Terence Kelly, who studied under Bauhaus-founder Walter Gropius, and R. Buckminster Fuller, well known for his geodesic domes, environmentally-conscious designs and the dymaxion car. The complex includes the building, dome and garden on the 45-acre site known as Materials Park. The renovation, led by The Chesler Group and Dimit Architects, brings new life to Kelly’s building. According to Architectural Record, (Snapshot, Laura Raskin), Michael Chesler of The Chesler Group, campaigned to salvage the architectural marvel, giving it a place in the National Register of Historic Places and using tax credits to fund the renovation.
Pictures and details of the renovation after the break.
The 1959 Headquarters is an uncanny design, particularly because it combines two styles running parallel in the modernist period. Kelly’s building – “a series of quotations” from the modernist period includes “concrete pilotis and wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass, ASM gives off heavy emanations of Gropius, Le Corbusier and Gordon Bunshaft”, writes Steven Litt of Metropolis, (A Second Chance, Steven Litt). In contrast, Fuller’s stripped down and pure geometric form – an intricate lattice of triangles – creates a space that only implies habitation and enclosure without providing it. The pairing of the two structures gives the complex a unique and otherworldly vibe, certainly futuristic for its time. The geodesic dome hovers over the rectilinear building beneath it, touching down at points and bringing the focus to particular points of Kelly’s structure.
It is clear, then, why Chesler was so adamant about preserving the architecture. When Chesler approached Stan Theobald, Managing Director of ASM International, with an interest in renovating the building, Stan did not think it was realistic. However, after assuring Theobald that The Chesler Group could develop the renovation plans, obtain the necessary financing and construct the renovation successfully on time and under budget, Theobald agreed.
The details of the renovation, though subtle, were able to revive the building to its original state. The original metal surfaces of the interior were retained: copper, steel, brass, aluminium details, the stainless steel floating staircase, and the original structural concrete floors were polished to reveal its stone aggregate. The building even received an upgrade: new finishes, six new kitchenettes, ten conference rooms, two new lobbies, fitness rooms and bathrooms were added to the original scheme. The exterior stainless steel solar shades and steel lattice were refurbished. The historic monumental plate glass windows and frames, all 268 of them, were restored and re-glazed. The green roof plaza was restored and waterproofed, and the radial concrete arch parapet wall reconstructed. The renovation also included an electrical and heating upgrade: new gear, rewiring, and two-hundred new LED down lights with restoration to the lighting fixtures. The renovation also came back with a surprise. Historic artwork of Nikos Bel-Jon was discovered, restored and is now displayed throughout the building.
Architects (renovation): Dimit Architects
Architects (original): John Terence Kelly and R. Buckminster Fuller
Developer: The Chesler Group
Locations: Russel, Ohio, USA
Renovated: July 2011
Materials: Glass, Concrete, Steel
Area: 60,000 sf building, 45 acre site
“After” Photographs: Jeff Goldberg ESTO