firm active: 1907-1921

minneapolis, minnesota :: chicago, illinois
philadelphia, pennsylvania :: portland, oregon

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Factory for Alexander Brothers, International Leather Belting Corporation
Chicago, Illinois :: New Haven, Connecticut :: Cleveland, Ohio  1916/1918

Over a period of three years, Purcell and Elmslie designed a variety of architectural projects for Alexander Brothers Leather Belting Company and subsidiaries.  In addition to extensive interior remodeling of the corporate offices in Philadelphia, the firm prepared plans for modular factories that could be built at diverse locations where the company produced leather belting.  Four such sites were contemplated to the point of drawing preparation; construction occurred in only two instances (Chicago, Illinois, and New Haven, Connecticut). For the Chicago location, P&E devised a master plan that projected a central tower flanked by two of the modular factory buildings. Of this scheme, only one of the units was built. 

The modular factories show a number of considerations in devising a healthy and effective workplace.  In contrast to the usual darkened inner space possessed by most industrial brick buildings of the day, an uninterrupted fenestration of one hundred fifty feet of glazing opens the entire interior to natural light.  P&E did time-and-motion studies to create the most efficient machinery layout.


Presentation rendering, master plan

Modular factory unit (Chicago, Illinois)

P&E advertising brochure

Illustration of this building appears in the catalog for the "Purcell & Elmslie, Architects" exhibition at the Walker Art Center in 1953

9 images are also available from the University of Minnesota digital database.





research courtesy mark hammons