A yearslong expansion and consolidation of SMC Packaging Group’s operations resulted in a 415,000-square-foot center completed earlier this year in Partnership Industrial Center.
“All you have to build for a factory like this was something that was big, open and dry,” quipped project architect Tim Rosenbury, formerly of BRP Architects. “But actually, the devil was in the details and thinking about how their whole production system, the flow of materials, would lay out in this existing building and this expanded building.”
He said the original structure was 20 years old and previously housed a battery factory. That meant much of the structure was ideal for a company like SMC, which manufactures corrugated packaging, packaging supplies and protective shipping cartons. But Rosenbury said it was important to the design team to have cohesion in floor levels, ceiling heights, location of columns and widths of manufacturing bays from the existing building to the roughly 270,000-square-foot expansion.
“The design challenge was not about the aesthetics so much, although we did pay attention to that especially in the office, but it is more about the function, the economy and being able to deliver something of such a large scale,” he said.
The relationship with the design team and SMC ownership was critical, Rosenbury said, as the company planned to shift its production model from relying heavily on forklifts to a conveyor belt model with more automation.
The project also included rail siding on the north end of the building to allow the company to receive six rail cars at a time from the BNSF Railway. Rosenbury said this was his first time designing rail to come right up to a building.
“That’s one of the things that is so wonderful about being an architect,” he said. “Every project has a chance to learn.”
A project that is now hitting its stride on the west side of Bolivar includes a retail strip and storage units.