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Current Project: Columbus Municipal Light Plant

Updated: Jan 21

This article provides a historical overview of the Municipal Light Plant located in Columbus, OH, a current project for Sandvick Architects. Here we will share the building's historical significance, as well as future plans for the project!



Project Overview

Formerly a historic power plant, Sandvick Architects have been challenged to redesign and implement a major transformation of this historic building into an auction house and office building. The project is an Historic Tax Credit project.


We were challenged to design within current code requirements and utilized the Chapter 34 Existing Buildings section of the building code to allow the character giving steel beams and wood deck to be exposed.


Renovations are respectful but dynamic and reflect the industrial character of the historic structures. The spatial experience of the original Generation Building's exposed steel trusses, rich brickwork and wood ceilings is impressive. So to, the New Generation building capitalizes on highlighting the existing industrial cross bracing, the exposed steel frame structure and the existing beam crane left centered in the main atrium. The project will be a catalyst for new development in Columbus's Arena District West.



Historic Overview

Located near the Olentangy River in Columbus, OH, the Columbus Municipal Light Plant was originally constructed in 1903 as an experimental facility to test the viability of electric power for street lighting. However, the original building experienced several expansions over the years in order to keep up with an increasing demand of community usage, and eventually became so profitable that the city was able to power civic buildings and street lights without cost.


However, the early construction years of the Municipal Light Plant suffered from many political disputes and poor communication that actually resulted in the building being constructed in the wrong location. The initial plan was for the plant to be constructed on site of a nearby railroad track so that cars could be directly unloaded through coal ports. Instead, the building was constructed about six-feet within the railroad track and it was deemed physically impossible at the time to make the switch. Despite these costly setbacks in construction, the Municipal Light Plant was quickly able to produce a profitable return on investment by 1907.


In 1937, construction began on an addition to the east of the existing boiler house, and in 1950 the next section of the new generation plant was constructed. Four years later, the final expansion of the new generation plant included new control rooms and a large entry block. These expansions to the original construction signify the importance of the light plant within Columbus at that time.


Ultimately, the plant closed in 1977 when the city of Columbus decided to no longer produce their own power, but to instead buy their electric power elsewhere.



Future Plans

The original 1903 power plant with its brick arched windows and high trussed ceilings will be converted to a new venue for Garth's Auctioneers & Appraisers. The original Boiler House will house a first-floor parking garage and 10,000 square feet of high ceiling office space.


Garth's held its first public auction this past July 2019 and an architectural firm has opened its door in the Boiler House as well. The Auction House was selected to be the celebratory location for the ground breaking ceremony for the new Crew Stadium which will be located just across West Nationwide Blvd.


The 1954 power generation building of 46,000 square feet of office space will be enhanced with a new entry hall addition which will connect to the power house and to the new 5-story atrium. Garage parking is located in the basement and first floors.


The 1954 building is currently under construction and is anticipated to be completed at the end of 2020.



Stay tuned for more updates on this project!


Best,

The Sandvick Team


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