Feeds

Fire extinguishes debate over historic IBM shop

Disk and campus heritage disappear

High performance access to file storage

IBM's historic Building 25 in San Jose, California — formerly at the center of a dispute between preservationists and a home repair chain — was destroyed by a fire over the weekend.

The three-alarm blaze substantially damaged the abandoned complex, leaving little in the ruins. IBM staff once worked on a precursor to the hard disk drive at the office.

About 75 firefighters spent more than eight hours battling the blaze before it was brought under control early Saturday morning.

The unexplained fire is, er, convenient for city planners and Lowe's home improvement store. Both have been in a legal tug-o-war with history buffs over the fate of the site.

For years, city preservation organizations have argued against San Jose's approval for demolition of the building that will see it replaced by a 180,000-square-foot Lowe's retail outlet. The city argued a new store would bring in half a million dollars a year in sales tax revenue.

The site had been closed by IBM since the mid-1990s, when Big Blue began to relocate its facilities to other parts of San Jose and Silicon Valley. In a previous life, the complex was an IBM headquarters where researchers developed the first hard disk drive to use a flying head. The advancement greatly improved a computer's ability to search the disk platter for data.

Architecturally, the building has been heralded as one of the earliest examples of Silicon Valley's technology campuses. Advocates of the site champion IBM's use of large glass walls, as opposed to the solid wall construction popular at the time, that provided ties between the landscaping, outdoor works of art and the indoor offices and labs.

In 2002, Lowe's purchased an 18.75 acre section of IBM's Cottle Road campus which included Building 25. The site was not yet registered on the city's historic resources inventory, and the company assumed the building could be torn down. But research done while evaluating the environmental impact of the demolition brought to light the building's architectural and historic value. Building 25 was eligible for federal and local protection despite being under 25 years old.

City planners first approved the demolition in 2003, but the plans were blocked by a lawsuit filed by the Preservation Action Council of San Jose. The city council revised the plans last June, but was again stifled by another lawsuit from the org.

Both sides say before the fire they were nearing a compromise which would allow a portion of the building to be remodeled and share the site with Lowe's, according to the San Jose Mercury News.

"This is devastating, in every sense of the word," said PAC-SJ Interim Executive Director Brian Grayson in a statement. "We have worked for years to save this iconic building that reflects not only architectural innovation and excellence but Silicon Valley's high-tech heritage."

Photos of the damage are available at the PAC-SJ website.

The groups are currently reevaluating their options for the site, which may include re-creating a wing of the building from the ground up, according to San Jose Mercury News.

The cause of the fire is still under investigation. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Seagate brings out 6TB HDD, did not need NO STEENKIN' SHINGLES
Or helium filling either, according to reports
European Court of Justice rips up Data Retention Directive
Rules 'interfering' measure to be 'invalid'
Dropbox defends fantastically badly timed Condoleezza Rice appointment
'Nothing is going to change with Dr. Rice's appointment,' file sharer promises
Cisco reps flog Whiptail's Invicta arrays against EMC and Pure
Storage reseller report reveals who's selling what
Bored with trading oil and gold? Why not flog some CLOUD servers?
Chicago Mercantile Exchange plans cloud spot exchange
Just what could be inside Dropbox's new 'Home For Life'?
Biz apps, messaging, photos, email, more storage – sorry, did you think there would be cake?
IT bods: How long does it take YOU to train up on new tech?
I'll leave my arrays to do the hard work, if you don't mind
Amazon reveals its Google-killing 'R3' server instances
A mega-memory instance that never forgets
prev story

Whitepapers

Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.