Catasauqua Municipal Complex

Project Description

Catasauqua is inseparable from its industrial iron heritage. A new Municipal Complex celebrates this history through material and craft.

Awards

  • Award of Excellence – AIA Eastern PA, 2017
  • Certificate of Achievement – PA House of Representatives, 2014
  • Certificate of Recognition – PA Senate, 2014

Project Details

  • Client Borough of Catasauqua
  • Location Catasauqua, PA View map
  • Use Office
  • Acres 12.5
  • Completed 2017

The design of the Catasauqua Municipal Complex is inspired by its surrounding site and history. The story of the former Crane Iron Works property is one worth telling and respecting, as it holds its place in the larger story of the American Industrial Revolution. On this site, the process of burning anthracite coal as fuel in the hot blast furnace was revolutionized. By 1902, the four furnaces of the Crane Plant turned out 450 tons of iron daily. Catasauqua owes much of its success to the iron…

The design of the Catasauqua Municipal Complex is inspired by its surrounding site and history. The story of the former Crane Iron Works property is one worth telling and respecting, as it holds its place in the larger story of the American Industrial Revolution. On this site, the process of burning anthracite coal as fuel in the hot blast furnace was revolutionized. By 1902, the four furnaces of the Crane Plant turned out 450 tons of iron daily. Catasauqua owes much of its success to the iron that was produced on this site.

As recognition of the site’s former use, materials and design elements within the Municipal Complex have been carefully considered. The overall building achieves an industrial aesthetic by use of a classic form, the saw-tooth roof, reinterpreted to fit the programmatic needs of the building. The exterior material palette is comprised mostly of corrugated metal panel, a “new” industrial material that recognizes the neighboring structures. Brick, concrete, and glass tie old and new, giving the building a distinctively modern but contextually appropriate appearance. Elements from a demolished engine repair shed were salvaged and used throughout the building, and the rail lines that led into the shed were re-set in the public plaza. In the interior, dark metallic floor tile and 150-year-old hemlock reclaimed from the project site are reminiscent of the coal, canal, and railroad industries that fueled the furnaces of the Crane Iron Works. The hemlock is used throughout, as an indicator of public space, guiding the visitor. An arch of reclaimed brick above the entry gives a subtle nod to the arched opening of the iconic Blowing Engine Building of the Crane Plant. The exposed steel of the lobby is painted a dark bronze to reflect the patina of coal-forged iron.

While the building design sets the precedent for development on the remaining 10 acres of the Iron Works property, the Municipal Complex’s success lies in its union of three Borough entities in desperate need of a new home. The state-of-the-art complex houses police, fire, and municipal departments. Each department functions independently, while having the advantage of shared building systems and communication. The Municipal Complex also serves as a single-point community resource. Residents will become familiar with their public services through daily interaction. The oversized lobby and various break-out spaces encourage chance encounters and public gathering of multiple scales. In a small community, this level of comfort and involvement is crucial to sustaining a forward-thinking government.

Award Award of Excellence – AIA Eastern PA, 2017

Project Borough of Catasauqua: Municipal Building

Award Certificate of Achievement – PA House of Representatives, 2014

Project Borough of Catasauqua: Municipal Building

Award Certificate of Recognition – PA Senate, 2014

Project Borough of Catasauqua: Municipal Building

Testimonial

Title AIA Eastern PA Awards Jury

What could have been a run-of-the-mill, mundane design is instead a vigorous and inspired multipurpose building. The use of repetitive forms and the economical yet elegant use of standard materials is noteworthy.

Related projects

City of Easton: City Hall & Intermodal Transportation Center

View project