The history of prefab buildings is long and honorable (even the First Fleet sent out to set up a British colony in Australia in 1788 brought prefab buildings), and the importance of old prefab buildings cannot be understated for they are among the most vulnerable elements of the built environment. It is especially true of commercial prefabs. That makes this a real gem, a beautifully restored and reused porcelain enamel metal panel prefab garage from the 1950s now beautifully adaptively reused as a frozen custard shop.

Starting life as a gas station, it was moved from a location near Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport in the 1970s and turned into an auto repair shop, complete with an “updated” look of fake brick and a mansard roof. The new owners Steve and Vicky Uhr realised the underlying classic nature of their building and employed KKE Architects to restore and modify it for their Liberty Frozen Custard business.

The brick and wood was removed and the original gas station was discovered mostly intact underneath.

Essential elements in the restoration were exposing the building’s original porcelain panels and incorporating the original red, white and blue patterns. The existing garage doors were used as functional architectural elements, opening up the indoor dining area and connecting it with outdoor seating. A complementary 500-square foot addition was constructed, and the interior was modified to its new use.

What can we say, it’s beautiful

and it fully deserved the Preservation Alliance of Minnesota‘s Adaptive Reuse Award it received in August 2006.

There is more on their flickr site.

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