The Industrial Commons

Morganton, NC (2022-present)

The Industrial Commons aims to establish a vibrant, equitable, and community-driven industrial hub at the site of the former Drexel Furniture Plant in Morganton, North Carolina. Dedicated to championing and uplifting employee-owned social enterprises, the Industrial Commons founds and scales sustainable industrial cooperatives to support frontline workers in textile and furniture production and to address the inequities of generational poverty. The Vision Plan will transform a 27-acre post-industrial site into an inclusive Innovation Campus and an adjacent 10-acre site into a Housing Cooperative—bolstering the local economy, investing in the community, and generating positive change for the population of Morganton. 

Goals for the future campus include:

• Creating an inclusive and vibrant environment
• Supporting education and economic opportunities
• Accelerating innovation
• Nurturing health and happiness
• Building connections between people and place
• Promoting flourishing ecosystems
• Working toward net positive energy, water, and waste

The design for the future Innovation Campus weaves together key components and initiatives, including a new headquarters for The Industrial Commons organization, small to midsize manufacturing spaces for firms working in textile and furniture making, and incubator spaces and training facilities dedicated to supporting emerging businesses. Manufacturing, operations, and incubator facilities will be immersed in 8 acres of public park space. Prioritizing the integration of natural elements and shared public spaces, the vision for the landscape infuses the Innovation Campus with walking trails, outdoor gathering areas, gardens, and event spaces. The landscape also functions as the connective tissue between the Innovation Campus and the Housing Cooperative, offering safe pedestrian passage between the two sites.

The Housing Cooperative site provides space for approximately 55 homes - a mix of affordable single-family and attached units. It also prioritizes shared space for community amenities, including a community center, gardens for food production, outdoor play areas, sports facilities, and cycling and walking paths for recreation. 

The Vision Plan for the Innovation Campus and Housing Cooperative pursues the Living Building Challenge and is committed to ensuring sustainability at every level. Through a comprehensive planning process, the design team established a framework to guide the client and future collaborators in utilizing the LBC criteria as the foundation for future design work and campus operations.

Collaborators for the vision plan include Baumgartner Urban Systems Strategy and NVERSE Architects.