New Warehouse Is Size of 17 Football Fields

Big enough to hold nine 1,000-foot-long supertankers. The equivalent of 17 football fields.

That's the estimated size of the 800,000-square-foot distribution warehouse in the new $23-million center for Carson-based Pic 'n' Save stores.

Touted as the "largest single-level building in Southern California" and "one of the largest single-level buildings in the world," the warehouse opened recently along with three other buildings in the center on a 92-acre site on 4th Street immediately east of Interstate 15 in Rancho Cucamonga.

The center provides storage and distribution for 90 Pic 'n' Save retail outlets in seven western states. Besides the warehouse, there is a 25,000-square-foot, single-level Pic 'n' Save retail outlet, which is the first Pic 'n' Save in the Rancho Cucamonga area; a 12,000-square-foot, two-level office building, and an 8,400-square-foot truck maintenance and wash facility.

The warehouse has 35 million cubic feet of space or an expanse of

about 18 acres under roof. Yet, it and the other three buildings in the center make, project promoters say, "a minimal impact on the surrounding area."

As they put it, "The architects (Solbert + Lowe of Santa Monica) used a two-tone color scheme to make the walls appear to fade into the sky." The bottom halves of the structures were painted dark rose, and the top halves, blue-gray.

Architect Douglas Lowe, who was project director and also master planned the site to include provisions for future expansion, said, "Out of necessity, we created an immense structure, a large container box that is deceptively simple, but we scaled it to the landscape." Besides using the two-color paint technique, he added, "We took advantage of extensive berming and screen walls to further lessen the scale, and we set the building well back from the street and designed meandering sidewalks."

A 13-foot-high, sandblasted concrete wall trimmed in burgundy to match the center helps conceal the trucking area, one of the largest in Southern California. It can serve up to 50 vehicles at one time. The center is also served by a Santa Fe Railway spur line, constructed especially for Pic 'n' Save.

Lowe likened the inside to a machine. The highly mechanized system of material handling and case storage was developed by Semco, Sweet & Mayers of Los Angeles. Oltmans Construction Co. of Whittier was the general contractor.

Arthur Frankel, president of Pic 'n' Save, said, "The distribution center will replace and more than triple the firm's previous warehouse capacity in Carson," where the firm's corporate headquarters will remain. About 200 people are employed at the center.

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