Original Name: Cargo Building
Date of Construction: 1943
Architect: H. L. Gogerty
Total Building Area: 249,350 SF
Original Use: Production facility for the Flying Boat project
History/Significance: Building 15 was constructed along with Buildings 14 and 16 for the Flying Boat contract during World War II and was used for the production and assembly of the giant aircraft’s major components. After the war it housed the research and production of aircraft radar, armaments, and experimental helicopters. The building is situated between and immediately adjacent to Buildings 14 and 16. It was originally constructed entirely of wood due to the shortage of industrial materials, such as metal, during World War II. The laminated, molded wood technology used for the building’s large structural arches was innovative and paralleled the development of the “Duramold” process used in the construction of the Flying Boat. The resulting building is one of the largest wood structures in the world in terms of footprint dimensions, volume, and free span floor area. The building is both individually eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places and a contributing structure in the Hughes Industrial Historic District.
Rehabilitation: Rehabilitation of Building 15 is currently underway. Work already complete includes removing all of the non-original paint on the interior to expose the original wood finish of the walls and arches. The windows, which were once blacked out on the interior, have been opened up and restored, allowing natural light to flood the spaces. Future work will include major structural retrofits; the addition of hundreds of thousands of square feet of modern office space–without disrupting the original, enormous, open volume of the hangars; and creating dynamic, yet historically compatible new entrances. For more images of Building 15, click the arrows at left.