BEBCO Building

Birmingham, Alabama
Davis Architects Completed 2006

The Birmingham Electric Battery Company (BEBCO) facility was built in 1926 as an automotive garage and warehouse specializing in battery maintenance.  The 1920’s-era moorish-inspired building was restored with the original neon signs rebuilt into working order.  The nine roof-top skylights were carefully disassembled and rebuilt to be identical in appearance and construction of the original rusted-out units.  Restrooms and common corridors for building tenants were constructed in the center of the building providing the least amount of impact to the peripheral spaces.

Beginning at the bright glossy red entry behind vintage bi-parting garage doors, the Davis Architects space was designed to be surprising and delightful.  The Department of the Interior required as many original finishes as possible on the existing masonry walls to be maintained and required the restoration of the original beaded T&G walls where the historic fabric remained intact.  New walls were designed to read as such in sharp contrast to the old finishes. Steel and wood structure was left exposed in areas originally without a finished ceiling and where original ceilings existed (such as the pressed tin ceiling in an automotive bay that became the main conference room) those finishes were restored. Floating ceilings were designed to hover over private office areas with the interior walls topped by storefront transoms to provide light and openness. Existing concrete floors were cleaned and polished in the studio area and carpeting used in the office areas. In the studio, sleek contemporary lighting was suspended over Knoll Autostrada work stations providing an interesting juxtaposition between the old and the new.