Mathews Architecture

14 Riverside Drive

Gifted to the City of Asheville by PSNC Energy, this building once served as the office of the Asheville Power & Light Company’s gas works facility. Located at 14 Riverside Drive, this building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a contributing historic structure in the Riverside Industrial Historic District and sat unused for over 50 years before the city decided to renovate it for public use. As a key structure along the Wilma Dykeman Riverway and in the River Arts District (RAD), it has been transformed into a flexible multi-use space with the intention of adding to the historic character of the RAD. For the first year its current use is being kept flexible. The City is working with arts and culture groups and community members to shape its future programming. It currently provides a place for public restrooms and gathering and will hopefully serve as a place where people entering the area can find information about the Asheville’s River Arts District. The building was originally constructed in 1930. Its concrete floor system was built spanning over Bacoate Branch, a small tributary to the French Broad River which is adjacent to the building site. The walls are brick with steel windows; the roof comprises metal truss roof framing and metal roofing. There was one small existing toilet in the southwest corner of the building that was straight-piped into the creek. Prior to renovation, the building had no water, sewer, or electrical service. The building is located in the floodway for the French Broad River. Renovations included patching and sealing the original concrete floor; cleaning and repointing interior and exterior brick; reroofing the building with new metal roofing; replacing missing and damaged steel windows with new operable windows to match the period of original construction; installing new ADA accessible public restrooms and new and additional doors for code compliance egress; adding a roll-up door towards the rear/riverside; and creating connections to a new outdoor metal deck system that could withstand to flooding and provide egress and access to the greenway and planned future events areas. Water and sewer lines were brought to the site, which turned out to be a bit daunting given unknown and quite significant foundations from demolished structures buried well below grade as well as existing brownfield designated areas on site. The building is now heated and cooled with large ceiling fans and the building has operable windows. The new electric meter was required to be set above flood level (which is above the roof). Consequently, an access platform was required by Duke Energy Progress, located on the southeast corner, the least obtrusive placement. Landscaping includes plantings specific for the River riparian areas. The new parking lot was left primarily gravel to provide permeable surfaces to enhance stormwater management. (Handicapped spaces required paving per code.)
After the renovation, showing the ADA access to the building
14 Riverside before renovation
14 Riverside and the grounds before renovation
The building straddles a creek
View along Riverside Drive, showing the electric meter placed above the flood level
Pervious parking for visitors
View of the main room after renovation
View of the main room following renovation
Celebrants at the facility's grand opening
Celebrants at the facility's grand opening