Adaptive Reuse of Smith Bros’ Building was Perfect for Libart’s Retractable Enclosure
The Smith Bros’ Hardware Co. building and its rooftop water tower have been a distinct feature on the Columbus skyline since it was constructed in 1929. During the 40’s and 50’s, it was one of the largest hardware distribution companies in the Midwest. Things changed over time as it closed in the early 80’s and remained vacant for 15 years. It then suffered a fire which led most people in Columbus to presume the building would be demolished. However, Todd Kemmerer, Principal at Capital Equities, had a more productive vision.
This is a great story of adaptive reuse architecture. Key elements such as a 22’ circular, metal chute, rooftop water tower, original name branding on the building exterior and even graffiti-covered columns were retained while transforming the building into an efficient and distinctive loft-style office and now mixed-use facility.
It’s Important to Plan for Rooftop Spaces in the Beginning
According to experts cited in a Columbus Dispatch article, it is important to design rooftop spaces into the plans from the beginning. Todd agrees. He said a rooftop space had been part of his plan for the Smith Bros’ building for 20 years. Support columns for a rooftop space were installed in 1997.1
Enter Steve Rayo, owner, and CEO of Dock580. His team began operating out of the Smith Bros’ Hardware annex building in 2005 as Zuppa Catering in their first event space called “The Venue.”2 It was so successful that they opened a second space in 2009 called “The Loft.” With continued success, his team set out to create the perfect urban rooftop. They found The Godfrey, a LibartUSA project in downtown Chicago, and immediately knew they wanted something like this on the Smith Bros’ building.
The six-story Smith Bros’ building offered views of Downtown, the Arena District, the Short North, the Convention Center, the OSU Stadium and part of Italian Village. According to Rayo this is also an ideal location because nothing can be built around it that may obstruct the view.3 Steve assembled a collaborative design-build team in 2015 that included Libart USA, Architectural Alliance, and Compton Construction. They put their heads together to turn vision into reality. The rooftop consists of an open-sky terrace, a retractable dining area and fixed roof area with a full bar and kitchen. The rooftop space holds up to 299 people.
Dock580 vetted a new name for the venue and settled on “Juniper.” Juniper is a private event space on weekends and a bar and restaurant open to the public three nights a week. The theme is “Gatsbyesque”, almost like a rooftop speakeasy.3 The views of downtown Columbus, exposed brick, polished concrete floors and steel beams make for a very interesting and unique space where Steve’s team expects to book at least 150 gatherings each year!