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The Vacant Birkenstock Distribution Center on Hwy 101 (That Birkenstock is Moving Back Into)

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Welcome to Curbed's ongoing series titled Hidden History, where Curbed Contributor Alex Bevk highlights a Bay Area location with a secret past. Maybe it’s no longer there, maybe it’s been converted into something else, but each spot holds a place in Bay Area history - even if not many people know it. Have a suggestion or know a place with a secret history? The tipline's always open or you can leave a comment after the jump.

Birkenstock Distribution Center [photo: Novato Redwood Properties, Inc]

If you've ever driven north on the 101, chances are you've spotted the spikey points of the massive empty warehouse building just north of Novato. Designed by one of the Bay area's most notable Modernist architects, word on the street is the hyperbolic paraboloid (because yeah, that's what that's called) won't be vacant for much longer.

In 1962, John Savage Bolles Associates designed the 135,000 sq ft warehouse and 37,000 sq ft office building for publishing house McGraw-Hill. It wasn't his first Modernist rodeo - he's also responsible for the iconic IBM campus in San Jose, the ill-fated Candlestick Park, the old Bayview Library, and the epically strange and tragically demolished Paul Masson's Champagne Cellars in Saratoga. Bolles was involved in the San Francisco art scene, and all of his major works include a large mural or some other art piece. The distribution center apparently has murals in the concrete representing education and science (since McGraw-Hill published school textbooks).

Birkenstock Distribution Center [photo: Novato Redwood Properties, Inc]

McGraw-Hill left in 1991, and a year later Marin-based Birkenstock moved in, using the warehouse as their distribution center. After 15 years at the site, the company decided to streamline the operation, moving distribution to Kentucky, and relocating offices to another spot in Novato. The building sat empty since 2007, but word on the street is the building will be occupied again this fall by...Birkenstock.

Yeah, the company that moved out 5 years ago is moving back in. Apparently their current lease is set to expire, and after hiring a bunch of new employees they need the bigger space. Everyone at the company seems psyched to move back, but there are some fixes to be made - vandals stripped all the copper piping and electrical from site.
· Birkenstock to Move from Hamilton Back to its Old Iconic Building [Novato Patch]
· 8171 Redwood Boulevard [Novato Redwood Properties, Inc]
· McGraw-Hill Birkenstock Warehouse Novato CA [Flickr]
· What’s Going On with the Old Birkenstock Building? [Novato Patch]
· Paul Masson Champagne [Wine Commonsewer]