Bright color replaced gritty gray at former Borg-Warner site
The colorful former York Corporation/Borg-Warner plant on West Philadelphia Street in York is home to Buchart Horn/Basco Associates. (See how that crane or a similar overhead crane was operated in photo below.) Background posts: York, Pa. made big, heavy things – and was immensely proud of it, Carriage house dome: ‘What’s there will last for 100 years … 200 years’ and ‘Little Johnny’ called for Allies in World War II.
The 445 W. Philadelphia Street complex often just referred to as Borg-Warner was in severe disrepair in the 1990s.
Long ago, the two air conditioning/refrigeration plants known as “The Yorks” consolidated at the Grantley site, best known today as York International and Johnson Controls… .
Women worked on the shop floor at Yorkco during World War II — and in this case high above the floor. Shop News, the company newsletter, noted that Bessie Elicker acted as pilot, bombardier and navigator on this overhead crane.
The West Philadelphia site occupied successively by York Manufacturing, York Ice Machinery, York Corporation (Yorkco) and then Borg-Warner became a focus of redevelopment efforts.
Buchart-Horn, an engineering and architectural firm, stepped in as the lead tenant 1994 and put a colorful shine, complete with glass elevator, to the complex never seen during its manufacturing days.
A story in the October issue of Spaces magazine, published by the York Daily Record/Sunday News, paints a picture of the heavy machine shops turned into white collar office space:
When you walk into the offices of Buchart Horn/BASCO Associates at 445 W. Philadelphia St. in York, you can tell right away it’s one of the strongest buildings in town.
Gray steel beams are everywhere, some supporting a 30-ton yellow crane left from the building’s manufacturing days.
But the place is more than just strong.
Infused with history, it was brought from the brink of death 15 years ago by some of the 200-plus architects and engineers who now work within its exposed-brick walls.
For decades, York Manufacturing Co., later Borg-Warner, (now Johnson Controls), made heavy, steam-powered industrial refrigeration machines along the railroad tracks on the west side of the city. When the company consolidated plants in the 1950s, the former 6.2-acre site on Roosevelt Avenue and West Philadelphia Street was left vacant.
By the 1990s, it had become an eyesore — a magnet for thieves and vandals.
Neighbors signed a petition, begging the city to demolish the deteriorated structures.
The York County Industrial Development Corp. and the city studied whether the buildings could be gutted and converted into offices. More than half were deemed structurally unstable and razed for parking, but seven were saved and renovated with the help of state and federal grants and loans.
These days, the Industrial Plaza of York is a collection of modern office and light industrial buildings that won a national award for adaptive reuse.
Its anchor tenant is Buchart Horn/BASCO Associates, sister companies that consolidated their operations into the 56,000-square-foot former machine shop on the site.
One side of an atrium is filled with tables where employees can eat their lunches. The space is popular with community groups, who have held events in the space from time to time.
“It’s one of the few places in the city that has a lot of parking for
events,” said Gene Schenck, spokesman for Buchart Horn/BASCO Associates.
For additional posts on Yorkco/Borg-Warner, visit Yorkco.