Historic building burns on Lowe’s site

Lowe’s battle to build a 162,000-square-foot store in the city of San Jose may soon be over, following a March 10 blaze that ruined a historic structure on the site.

Local preservationists had long battled the home improvement retailer to save “Building 25,” built by IBM in 1957 and designed to resemble a computer punch card. Lawsuits delayed the project for years, although both sides were nearing a settlement that would have accommodated both the store and a portion of the historic building, according to the Contra Costa Times.

The City of San Jose had thrown its support behind the project, but a series of court victories by preservationists delayed the groundbreaking. The case reached the California State Court of Appeals, which ruled in 2006 that Lowe’s needed to come up with an alternative design that could co-exist with the modernistic building, which featured glass walls and a long narrow spine connecting five wings. The structure was a radical departure from the industrial designs of the 1950s and served as a model for later high technology campuses.

Most of the building was destroyed by the 1:32 a.m. fire, the latest in a series of blazes that have claimed historic buildings in San Jose, according to news reports.