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Ohio’s Giant Basket Gets a Price Drop

Friday, September 9, 2016

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Real estate agents are accustomed to dealing with tough clients, but you might say one Ohio broker has a real basket case on his hands. It’s not the seller, though—it’s the building itself.

A Newark, OH, landmark that for nearly two decades housed the Longaberger Company has been on the market for about a year and a half, and recently saw a price reduction. Part of the issue might be: The building looks like a huge picnic basket.

Longaberger Basket building
Derek Jensen (Tysto), Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Longaberger building is an example of programmatic architecture, the practice of making a building look like what it houses or produces.

The seven-story, 180,000-square-foot office building was completed in 1997, according to reports, and housed offices for Longaberger, a maker of baskets and decorative home items. At the time it was built, the company was on the upswing, and the building served as a prominent symbol of the basket-maker’s success.

Programmatic Architecture

The basket facade is an example of programmatic architecture, the practice of making a building look like what it houses or produces, which became popular in the U.S. as automobile travel became more common in the mid-20th century.

Despite being a relatively late entry in the programmatic game, the Longaberger building did become an attraction, even making an appearance in the comic strip Zippy, which regularly featured roadside oddities.

After the 1999 death of founder Dave Longaberger, and in light of a decline in the popularity of Longaberger’s main products, the company shrank in size through the 2000s, and decided in 2015 to put the basket on the market and move its offices into its nearby manufacturing facilities. The last basket-dwelling administrative workers said goodbye to the building in July.

Price Drop

The building was reportedly priced at $7.5 million when it first hit the market, but has since been reduced to $5 million. That’s just under $28 per square foot, Bloomberg News notes, considerably lower than the going rate on a traditional office building in the area.

Reports note that the basket could use an exterior paint job—even if the new owners decide to keep it looking like a basket, rather than try to alter the facade to look a little more conventional. But listing agent Michael Guagenti told Bloomberg the inside of the building doesn’t belie its novelty exterior.

"There's nothing baskety inside," he told the news agency. "Nothing makes you feel like it's in a basket. You feel like you're in a nice, high-rise office building."

   

Tagged categories: Architecture; Building facades; Commercial / Architectural; Design; Office Buildings

Comment from Eric Murrell, (9/9/2016, 7:26 AM)

This building would be an excellent design project for architecture students. Making the building look less like a basket in a cost effective manner would be a great challenge.


Comment from Dick Piper, (9/9/2016, 8:39 AM)

When the buyer learns that the exterior is EIFS, the price might drop even more.


Comment from Tom Schwerdt, (9/9/2016, 10:46 AM)

Doesn't take much of a design project. Take off the handles, patch the mountings and repaint the exterior. After that, it just looks like a normal architectural signature building.


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