VENTURA : Patagonia’s Recycling Effort Takes On an Entire Building

Most people in Ventura recycle aluminum cans, plastic, glass and paper.

Patagonia is recycling a building.

The building’s steel shell will go to the Oglala-Sioux reservation in South Dakota, said Paul Furtaw, the company’s facilities coordinator. The roof tiles were handed over to a contractor for reuse; the concrete slab will be part of a local effort to combat erosion in a river bed.

Even the chicken wire and stucco that once covered the steel frame will be used to keep down dust on the road leading to a local landfill, rather than taking up precious space as refuse, Furtaw said.


The 4,000-square-foot storage building, which company executives say was too small to be practical for the recreational equipment and clothing company, was located in the northeast corner of Patagonia’s Ventura headquarters complex, just off Main Street.

The building was being disassembled Thursday piece by piece. Only the brownish steel shell remained intact, and soon that will also be taken down, neatly stacked and placed on flatbed trucks for a trip to South Dakota.

“We really need a warehouse on the Oglala-Sioux Reservation,” said Phillip Stevens, president of the Walking Shield American Indian Society. The organization works with the government to obtain excess federal property from closed military bases to use in repairs and improvements of buildings on reservations. The building materials will be stored in the recycled warehouse.

“The conditions up there are very harsh,” he said of the area surrounding the village of Kyle, the warehouse’s new home. He cited problems including poverty, unemployment and homelessness--each made more serious by the harsh weather.

Stevens said the cold and snowy winter, which has already begun, will delay reconstruction of the warehouse until after the spring thaw.

In place of the warehouse, Patagonia is constructing a larger, three-story building, modeled after a historic Ventura firehouse torn down about 1940.

The new building will house day-care facilities, meeting rooms, a photography studio and an exercise center, he said. The building, which should be completed by September, 1996, will be built primarily from environmentally friendly materials, including recycled steel in the building’s frame.

“The owners felt strongly that this design reflect the historic nature of the city since this building is kind of the gates to the city,” Furtaw said. “This is the first thing people will see when they enter the city from the north.”