Basket builders vacate Ohio's famous basket building

Basket builders vacate Ohio's famous basket building

By Barry haynes (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Longaberger “Big Basket” was designed in house by the Longberger Company with the help of NBBJ as Architects of Record. (By Barry haynes, Wikimedia Commons)After nearly twenty years, the Longaberger Company, makers of wooden baskets, will be moving out of its trademark Longaberger “Medium Market Basket” shaped building in Newark, Ohio.

Longaberger originally planned to build many basket shaped buildings for their company campus. The “Big Basket” was the only one completed. (minnemom, Flickr)

Designed by the Longaberger Company, with NBBJ as architects of record, the corporate headquarters sits just about 40 miles north of Columbus. At 160 times larger than the basket it is based on, the seven-story building has 180,000 square feet of office. Longaberger will be moving its workers to its nearby manufacturing facility in Frazeysburg, OH.

The Big Basket, as it is referred to, is an example of novelty, or programmatic architecture. Though built in the 1990s, examples of novelty buildings stretch back more than 100 years, and include the Tail o’the Pup hot dog stand in Los Angeles and Lucy the Elephant in Somers, New York. Another example is the Big Duck of Flanders, New York, made infamous by Denise Scott Brown and Robert Venturi’s theories on the “duck,” describing buildings which combine their function with their shape as a symbol of that function. As such, ducks and duck eggs are sold in the Big Duck.

The Big Duck was built in 1931 by duck farmer. (Alexander Rabb, Flickr)

As reported by the Columbus Dispatch, the basket company has a back tax debt of $570,000. If that amount is not eventually paid, the county could repossess the property and sell it in a sheriff’s auction. The starting bid would be set at the tax amount plus court costs. At around $600,000, that would make the building possibly the most expensive picnic basket ever sold, but an excellent bargain for an office building.