Vestas Wind Turbine Towers passing by Watertower Place in the Grove with the Pueblo Library watching over in the distance. This is Pueblo.

Watertower Place is built on history and powered by adaptive re-use in the age of re-urbanism.
— Ryan McWilliams
 
 

The World's Most Sophisticated Meat Packing Plant

Emmett Nuckolls and his son G. H. Nuckolls opened the first Pueblo operation of the Nuckolls Packing Company in 1891 near the Union stock yards, about one-half mile east of Bessemer Junction station. They achieved great success and saw tremendous growth potential immediately.

In 1915 the family hired Hans Peter Henschien to design one of the world's most sophisticated meat packing facilities using his 'rational factory' theory. Henschien planned the very structure of the factory so that it would work as predictably and obediently as a machine by facilitating the most efficient flow of product throughout the plant. Meat packing firms pioneered the development of the rational factory in the early 20th century with influential builders like Hans Peter Henschien.

According to the Pueblo Chieftain, the cost of construction was $300,000 and the project located on South Santa Fe Avenue took a year to complete. The cost to build the factory today would approach $149,000,000. The meat packing plant was so massive that during its first inspection tour in October 1916, three dignitaries got lost and the fire department and plant staff had to be called to search for the missing parties. 

The plant, located on six acres just southeast of the Historic Arkansas Riverwalk of Pueblo, enjoyed a trade that extended as far south as Houston, Texas, well into eastern Kansas, and all through Colorado and New Mexico and Arizona. 

Watertower Place today at 303 S Santa Fe Ave in the heart of the Grove neighborhood.

Watertower Place today at 303 S Santa Fe Ave in the heart of the Grove neighborhood.

 

 

The 'Rational Factory' in the Heart of the Grove

 
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Born in 1881 in Kristiania, Norway (now Oslo), Hans Peter Henschien emigrated to the United States in June 1901. In his early twenties he started Henschien & McLaren Architects which set up shop in the Old Colony Building in Chicago. Their specialties included packing house and cold storage construction.  The young genius is most noted for his theory of the 'rational factory' which used gravity as its core technology.

 

In 1915, Chicago, Nickerson & Collins Co. published the fully illustrated Packing House and Cold Storage Construction; a general reference work on the planning, construction and equipment of modern American meat packing plants, with special reference to the requirements of the United States government, and a complete treatise on the design of cold storage plants, including refrigeration, insulation and cost data. This book became the 'Bible' for creating meat packing facilities in the USA and throughout the world. Other projects include the Richter Sausage Factory in Chicago, the Rath Packing Co. in Waterloo, IA, and numerous plants in Russia, just to name a few.

 

From 1915 to 1917 the Pueblo Chieftain regularly reported on the construction of the massive Nuckolls Packing Co. plant with an emphasis on the introduction of the world's latest modern technologies. At a cost of $300,000 to build in 1916, it would require $149,000,000 to construct today. 

 

 
The Rational Factory is designed to bring the vision of the future of the former meat packing plant to life through the creation of a new vertical urban village.

The Rational Factory is designed to bring the vision of the future of the former meat packing plant to life through the creation of a new vertical urban village.

The Tradition Continues in the Heart of the Grove

 

Operating in Pueblo, Colorado since 1946, Johnny’s Metal Works & Boiler Shop has been providing the Colorado Community with skilled welding, fabrication and boiler repair for generations. We have all of the materials and equipment needed to help complete your large industrial job or your small personal project.

Johnny’s became the first tenant at Watertower Place and continues the tradition of serving the community. Our steel fabrication center is partnered with Pueblo Community College (PCC) and the Department of Labor to expand the welding certification process to the heart of the Grove in downtown Pueblo.

 

 
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What do you want to make today?

 

Watertower Place is providing unique and inspiring spaces designed to foster collaboration and promote ideas for efficient, forward-thinking innovation. Pueblo makes the things that enable Makers to make things. The story of Pueblo, whether it is steel production or meat packing, is about making processes to create great things that impact the world around us. This has been the core narrative for generations of Puebloans from the 'Town called Town that Could'.

At Watertower Place we are passionate about creating a home for Southern Colorado based makers, creatives and entrepreneurs to flourish. Our first collaborative platform is the Hans Peter Henschien Center for Creativity & Innovation which is named after the Norwegian architect who designed the original Nuckolls Packing Company and is known worldwide for his rational factory design. Here you will find Southern Colorado Innovation Link (SCIL) and the Steel City Maker Center (SCMC).

 

OUR MAKER CULTURE

PUEBLO MAKES

I grew up in a paper mill town in New Jersey and after I came to Pueblo 20 years ago, it took me a while to figure out why I felt at home so quickly. I realized that Pueblo has the same rich ethnic diversity, the same friendly but tough welcome, and the same hands-on, "we can do this" attitude of my home town. 

Both towns are maker towns. Pueblo makes steel, but we also roast coffee, we design and make jewelry, we customize hot rods, and we paint murals. We have great manufacturing companies that make carbon disk brakes for aircraft, towers for wind turbines, rail products, traction chains, custom kitchen cabinets, fruit handling equipment, high end GPS devices, bath and body products, and more. I sew. 

In the Engineering Department at CSU-Pueblo, engineering students build on theoretical foundations of calculus and physics to design and make products using equipment including our foundry and 3D printers. As an educator, I am proud that we help students achieve their dreams and that those engineering graduates help our local companies succeed. 

Jane M Fraser
Maker, Educator & Community Builder

 
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Unforgettable venues. Unforgettable events.

 

Gather, collaborate and inspire in a unique environment that reflects over 100 years of creativity and innovation in the heart of the Grove. Plan your next meeting at the only premier event destination which embraces Pueblo's unique history, culture and the arts. Experience the 'future of the past' while enjoying global contemporary culture infused with local personality and perspectives.

 

 
Watertower Place offers numerous ideal venues for those special once-in-a-lifetime occasions that require celebration and community.

Watertower Place offers numerous ideal venues for those special once-in-a-lifetime occasions that require celebration and community.

Watertower Place is a creative business community in the heart of the Grove in Pueblo, Colorado. It is entrepreneurs, creatives and makers interacting with each other...it is the ‘evolution of blue’.
— Gregory Howell • Creative Consultant
Kadoya Gallery and Artisan Textile Company present the special exhibition YUMIKO at Watertower Place in May 2019.

Kadoya Gallery and Artisan Textile Company present the special exhibition YUMIKO at Watertower Place in May 2019.

Watertower Place is truly a living village and would not be complete without a dynamic arts presence throughout our 'rational factory'. The arts make us whole and feed our soul. We want every visitor to be inspired by the history, culture and the arts of Pueblo. 

Through our forthcoming annual festival, artist-residency programs, artist commissions, and pop-up installations and performances, we are transforming the possibilities of how artists and communities engage with the built and natural environment.

Help us spread innovative, socially relevant art to unexpected places throughout Pueblo and beyond!

Life size storyboards are strategically located throughout Watertower Place to showcase the unique history, culture and arts of the former meat packing plant.

Life size storyboards are strategically located throughout Watertower Place to showcase the unique history, culture and arts of the former meat packing plant.