Hartford, CT – Bruner/Cott Architects recently completed an adaptive reuse conversion of the Swift Gold Leaf Factory in Northeast Hartford, a disinvested Connecticut community. Once the economic heart of its neighborhood employing over 300 people at its peak, the factory closed in 2005.
Working with nonprofit partner Community Solutions of New York, Bruner/Cott has reimagined the former factory’s historical buildings and two homes dating from 1887 to 1948 into a venue generating opportunities for job creation and training, educating youth, improving resident health, and spurring economic growth.
Architecturally, the transformation focused on repairing and restoring the neglected factory complex to its original character. Existing structures were gutted to make room for incubator kitchen space for fledgling local businesses, a community-based private school, and shared office space for local entrepreneurs and start-ups.
Opaque fiberglass windows, originally installed to block views of the gold leafing operation and to resist shattering, have been replaced with well-crafted black-framed glass windows. Most of the brickwork was left untouched. New steel awnings clearly mark entrances, and inside, new programs are identified with fresh signage among the building’s old columns and wood floors.
“Collaborating with Community Solutions in the transformation of the Swift Factory has been inspiring,” said Jason Jewhurst, Bruner/Cott partner and principal.
“Community Solutions was invited by several local organizations to help transform the Swift Factory in 2010,” said Patrick McKenna, senior project manager. “Our first task was to ask the neighborhood what they needed and how the Swift Factory could help. The result of that survey led to a focus on creating jobs and economic opportunity for residents. Ten years later, it is hugely satisfying to be seated in the transformed factory while watching Black-owned businesses bring jobs and life back to this former neighborhood anchor. Bruner/Cott, along with the design and construction team, played a critical role in helping us realize the vision of this ambitious project, which we hope will be a catalyst for future neighborhood revitalization.”