Architect: MartinRiley Architects-Engineers
Owner: Waite Rug Housing LLC
Contractor: McGann Construction
Waite Rug Place is the evolution of an early twentieth century grass rug factory into apartments for low income elderly and disabled residents in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. In December 2011, the south side of a site covering four city blocks consisted of the original 1910 Waite Carpet Factory mill building and power house, an addition constructed in 1918, and two other buildings one of which was originally across the street but was joined to the factory with an in-fill addition in 1966 when the street was closed.
The Oshkosh Housing Authority engaged our firm to research the history and complete the documents required to place the property on the National Register of Historic Places. The property was the only remaining example of a once thriving grass rug industry in northeast Wisconsin that sold products nationwide. Once on the registry the owner utilized historic tax credits to help with the extensive work necessary to change the use from a factory to a residence.
Design considerations included the variation in floor heights of the buildings, the bay spacing and the window to floor area ratio. The resulting design produced unique floor plans for most apartments while standardizing the kitchens and bathrooms to simplify construction.
The elevation of the interior floor of the east building was raised eight inches to provide windows with an acceptable reach range for the disabled. New heavy timber beams and columns replaced those that were rotted or decayed, brick walls were stabilized and reconstructed and four faux truck doors with strap hinges were created to replicate those that originally existed during the building’s early years.
The building separates the industrial zone to the north from the neighborhood by creating dwellings in a single building spanning two city blocks. The buildings on the north half are slated to be indoor parking for Waite Rug Place, a two-shift daycare and a rental hall completing the transition from the neighborhood to the industrial zone while allowing the north facing apartments a more aesthetically pleasing view.
Photos: Rob Dicke Photography