E.J. DeSeta

Client: E.J. DeSeta / Buccini Pollin Group
Area: 94,000 Sqft

Design Completion 2003 / 2006
Location: Wilmington, DE



Located in Wilmington  Delaware, this office and manufacturing building is as much a story about an individual as it is about a building. The client was required, 40 years ago, to leave Art College and help her mother run the family sheet metal business after the death of her father. She stepped into the leadership position and made the business prosperous while raising a family and later helped her sons start a very successful real estate company. To this day, the company continues as a sheet metal fabrication shop. In the tradition of keeping the family together, a portion of the building is also home to the owner’s sons’ real estate development company.

The client wanted a facility that would highlight her company’s trade and craft. the architecture of the building explored the use of metal not only as the building skin and mechanical distribution network, but also took advantage of the company production capabilities to fabricate custom-designed building partitions, casework, and furniture.

Kling Design Team:

Robert G. Little, Jr., AIA
Marcelo Franganillo, AIA
Richard Ashworth, RA
Sue Hu, RA

Photography: Greg Benson Photo


The 94,000-square foot (8,700-square meter) building is clearly split to reflect the two parts of the program: a single-story tall bay metal fabrication shop (70,000 square feet/6,500 square meters) and two levels of office area (24,000 square feet/2,200 square meters). The office building is elevated to create a covered parking area underneath, raise the occupied spaces above the 100-year flood plain, and assure that the presence at the street intersection is given due prominence. the low-level offices house the metal fabrication administration and connect through a bridge to a mezzanine in the shop. The third level is the headquarters of the real estate development company. The building is book-ended by two high spaces: a three story lobby atrium that functions as an exhibition space for company products and a double-height common space oriented toward the river and the city.

The material palette consists of two primary materials; zinc flat-lock panels manufactured and installed by the client are use to highlight people spaces, and pre-manufactured, field assembled corrugated metal panels are used for the workshop. Glass curtain wall assemblies present the multi-story gathering areas to the public and provide near and distant views to the occupants.

The office floor plan is only 60 feet (18 meters) wide. Offices, located on the perimeter, and all the conference rooms are enclosed by client-made translucent shoji screens or transparent glass walls fabricated with painted steel angles and exposed fasteners. the desks, tables and credenzas within are produced by the client’s shop and continue the integration of design and manufacturing to showcase metalwork as a craft.

Recognition + Publication

The building design was honored with the following awards:
2006, Silver Medal from the Pennsylvania Society of Architects
2005, Gold Medal, AIA Philadelphia Chapter
2003, Honor Award for an Un-Built Project, AIA Philadelphia Chapter

Architectural Record, April 2006
Philadelphia Inquirer, "Changing Skyline", Inga Saffron, Nov 2005