News / 6.10.15

Throwback Thursday – General Mills

Featured a reinforced concrete hyperbolic paraboloid roof system over the 4 ½ acre warehouse

Today’s Throwback Thursday stop on our weekly journey through the Epstein archives takes us back to May 1966 for the opening of the Epstein designed and engineered General Mills Snack Food Plant in Lancaster, Ohio. This 410,000 square foot facility was the result of General Mills’ extensive new snack food product program – which included Bugles, Whistles, and Daisy’s – that was booming and created a need for a vast expansion of General Mills’ production capacity.

Epstein’s architects and engineers were tasked with the objective to design a plant which could serve General Mills anywhere, on virtually any site, and for almost any cereal or snack product line. The result of this work was this Lancaster plant, a facility that featured 16 ‘functional areas’ -- including, receiving, bulk storage, process and packaging. Each functional area was assigned to a floor area (in square feet) based on a module of production having an arbitrary capacity of 1,000,000 cases per year. And, each area was examined and related in regard to 12 factors associated with relative position. Amazingly, this plant was fully operational within 12 months after site selection and land purchase!

One of the more interesting architectural features of the building included the use of a 52’6" square reinforced concrete hyperbolic paraboloid roof system over the 4 ½ acre warehouse. Which for 1966 made it the largest roof of its kind in the United States. This roof was supported by 60 concrete columns towering 34 feet tall.

In addition, our design and engineering was hailed by Factory magazine and awarded their Top Plant of 1967 and this facility also received a Citation of Merit award from AIA and Chicago Association of Commerce and Industry.

This building still stands – although not as a General Mills facility. It’s most recent use was as a cereal production plant for Ralston Foods, a division of ConAgra.