For generations, the towering Keasbey & Mattison smokestack on the Ambler Boiler House has been an icon in the town of Ambler. Built in 1897, the smokestack was initially a symbol of the town’s booming industry. By the 1970s, it spoke to a depressed economy. Today, the spire represents a shift to an eco-friendly future: the space is now a 48,000-square-foot, LEED Platinum office building. That’s especially good news for Ambler, considering Keasbey & Mattison was in the business of producing asbestos products.
“Ambler was a bit of a company town, and you still see some other brick structures that have a similar history,” says Mitch Shiles, a principal with Heckendorn Shiles Architects, the firm that transformed the space. Like the asbestos plant founders, the building’s current owners, Summit Realty, were drawn to the location in part because of the easy train access. The building is a short walk to Ambler’s SEPTA regional rail station. Transit-oriented development is a big benefit in the quest for LEED Platinum certification, the highest mark in energy-efficient design.