In 1982, the Pennsylvania Electric Company abandoned use of the historic Chester Waterside Station on the Delaware River, a 1916 coal-fired electrical power plant. Subsequently purchased by private developers, the station recently underwent restoration and conversion to office use by two architectural design teams. The base building architect, Blackney Hayes, reclaimed the building by bolstering, shoring, and polishing. The interiors architect, Hillier Architecture, breathed life into it by designing office space that appeals to high-tech companies and uses elements of the historic building. This sensitive reuse not only preserves an elegant historic building but also works to revitalize the Chester waterfront.
The first task was demolition, which required that the contractor essentially scoop out the industrial insides of the building, leaving only the four walls. Reconstruction included inserting a new structural steel form, adding two new floors, elevator/lobby/bathroom cores, and new mechanical/electrical/fire protection systems. This adaptive reuse project has yielded over a half million square feet of new office space.
The Chester Power Station is the new world headquarters of Synygy, a growing incentive compensation company. Synygy occupies 130,000 square feet in the most significant areas of this historic industrial building. Similarly, the new architectural insertions celebrate the dominant market force and technology of the 21st century—information technology, while creating a dialogue with the Beaux Arts classicism of the early 20th-century container. Using a complex computer network as architecture, the new environment reflects many of the electric company’s original goals — efficiency, performance, stability, and civic responsibility. The decaying building that was bought for $1 has become a million-dollar investment.
Project Architect: Sonja Bijelic, AIA, Associate Principal
Project Team: Mimi Campbell, IIDA; Royce Epstein;
MEP: Syska Hennessy Group
Electrical: Robert Ford Electric
Kise Straw & Kolodner
Jeffrey Tryon / Hillier Architecture
Fully insolated low-e glazing was used for thermal, solar control.
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