This project reinvented a decommissioned chocolate factory complex, built over 100 years ago, into a multi-use development. The multi-use redevelopment project is anchored by the iconic Wilbur Chocolate Factory, which is being repurposed into an upscale hotel, market, restaurant and luxury condominiums. The complex will also be home to The Lofts at Lititz Springs, a new 55+ satellite housing option for Pleasant View Communities, a nearby retirement community, as well as market-rate apartments. The vision for the project encompasses varied uses to ultimately bring more people into this thriving downtown to live, shop, dine and stay.
Redeveloping a Downtown Chocolate Factory Complex
The former Wilbur Chocolate Factory was comprised of a dozen different buildings added to the original structure over the decades. The adaptive re-use solution preserved the most historically and architecturally significant portions of the buildings and removed the later industrial additions that lacked aesthetic value and were competing for daylight on an already crowed site. The additions and new structures on the site blend with the old by echoing the roof lines and window placement. Additionally, materials such as red brick are featured throughout both the exterior and interior of the buildings and iron railings are repeated on both existing and new construction.
Fitting Diverse Uses on a Tight Site Squeezed Between a Functioning Rail Line and Town Streets
Breathing room was carved out of the chocolate factory by removing parts of the building that had less architectural value to make room for a series of entry experiences. Starting at Broad Street, the public entrances to both the restaurant and marketplace echo the former street-facing retail component of the factory and embraces the fabric of the town. Progressing deeper into the site, a former loading dock and 1970s addition were removed to form the main courtyard entrance for the hotel and public entrance to the condominiums. Around the corner, a former parking lot is being converted to The Lofts 55+ housing, extending the town streetscape and directly connecting those residences to the new amenities.
The 26 unique condo residences take advantage of the exposed brick and heavy timber structure to create unique, luxury living quarters with views of the adjacent park. Likewise, the 74-room boutique hotel complements the personality and style of Lititz. “The Wilbur” pays homage to the historic chocolate brand that is a big part the community heritage and provides upscale guest rooms and amenities within the framework of these historic buildings. Adding to an already thriving retail and food culture in Lititz, the design also includes a new 150-seat restaurant and food marketplace along Broad Street. This new building addition has been carefully designed to be a good architectural neighbor to the well-established fabric of downtown Lititz.
Initiated by a growing need for expansion of an industrial trash center, this project evolved into a total transformation that created an appealing new gateway into a revitalized city. Since an active switch yard was located directly behind the property, the creative solution features a railroad theme that is sensitive to surrounding businesses and redevelopment initiatives. At 45 feet high, the new transfer station is the largest of the four new buildings. To break down the building’s scale, it features brick and stone arches, columns, round windows and split-face masonry foundation. As part of the renovations to the authority office building, unusual wooden bowstring trusses from the interior, believed to have been built in the 1930s, were placed above the front exterior of the building and illuminated at night.
Awards: Preservation Honor Award for New Construction, sponsored by the Historic Preservation Trust of Lancaster County
Designed as a series of connected pavilions, the exterior makes use of natural materials such as stained cedar siding, colored stucco and copper roofs. Broad expanses of glass with large sheltering overhangs take advantage of views of the site and indirect day lighting.
The one-story facility has three open studios with soaring ceilings and glass walls that face the site’s secluded six-acre wooded campus. At the building center is the lobby and bistro, an open space with a fully-equipped gourmet kitchen, dining area, club chairs and a fireplace. An adjacent courtyard with flagstone patio provides outdoor seating. Other amenities include an extensive resource library, two conference rooms, a large workroom and a fitness center for employees and their families. Staff input and feedback was encouraged throughout the planning and design process.
Photo Credit: Larry Lefever Photography
Renovations to an unoccupied office building created a dynamic, multi-functional community hub. The building includes two levels of parking, a community business center on the main floor, and two upper levels of offices and shared spaces for the Chamber and several partner organizations. The commission began with an office-wide design competition. About a dozen teams presented a variety of approaches to reinventing the 30,000 square foot office building as the first step in selecting a preliminary design concept that would be subsequently developed into the final solution.
A New Face for the Chamber
The Chamber was committed to respecting the history of Lancaster while signaling an organizational commitment to looking forward. The updated building maintains a classical hierarchy, but is rendered in contemporary tones and textures. The former façade of 115 East King Street was designed at a time when modern lines and new architectural rhythms rejected the context and cadence of surrounding buildings in favor of new ideas. The new building face recaptures the rich architectural context of King Street by breaking down the former 60 foot façade to create a more graceful 45 foot wide main elevation stepping out toward the street.
Collaborative Work and Meeting Spaces
The building interior focuses on a range of multi-functional event and casual collaboration spaces. Varied furniture solutions include stand-up desks, “touchdown” work stations and comfortable seating with integrated charging stations, all supporting the needed flexibility. Bright pops of color and writable walls within meeting spaces and casual seating areas reinforce the energy and openness of the many spaces designed to foster idea sharing, community partnerships and business development.
Reinforcing Local Connections
Notable local material selections include slate and copper accent walls in meeting rooms, linear wood plank clouds painted in custom platinum and an open structural steel-frame stairway leading visitors to the community business center. Ceiling and lighting solutions throughout the building reflect a contemporary industrial aesthetic while maximizing natural light, integrating LED technology, and managing acoustical stability. A few details were incorporated during construction when unforeseen treasures were discovered during interior demolition. For example, an original beam from a Lancaster steel company was left exposed in the employee bistro.
Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography
The first of two 4,000 square foot commercial/retail buildings, this Federal style brick structure reflects many period buildings with various aspects of the Federal style. The project also helped facilitate a long-awaited extension of a road to run behind the property. The eight-acre infill property is an irregularly-shaped, hillside lot that straddles both the Lititz Borough and Warwick Township. Future development plans for the tract include the second commercial/retail building as well as a pocket park and two age-restricted apartment buildings with ground level garage parking.
Photo Credit: Nathan Cox Photography