Fire guts historic Silicon Valley building

IBM's Building 25 was renowned for the invention of an ancestor of the modern hard drive, as well as a precursor to the modern high-tech campus.

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A fire has destroyed an historic Silicon Valley building at the center of a preservation fight.

Building 25 at IBM's Cottle Road campus in San Jose, Calif., was destroyed in an early morning blaze Saturday. Preservation.org
An early morning fire on Saturday swept through Building 25 at IBM's Cottle Road campus in San Jose, Calif., according to a report in the San Jose Mercury News. The building, which opened in 1957 but had been vacant since 1996, was the site where the flying hard disk drive--an ancestor to the modern hard drive--was invented.

The 40,000-square-foot building was also hailed as precursor to the modern high-tech campus for "creative engineers"...built "in true California style, (with) patios between the wings (that) give the effect that offices and laboratories extend out-of-doors," according to historical descriptions from IBM. "Decorated in quiet pastel shades, the interior is casual yet austere, creating an atmosphere conducive to contemporary concentration."

After the building was closed in 1996, a chain link fence was erected when it became a frequent target for vandals and a haven for the homeless.

Preservationists had been battling with the city of San Jose, which had sided with big-box retailer Lowe's to raze the structure and build a 180,000-square-foot store on the site. A deal in the works between Lowe's and preservationists would have allowed for a portion of the building to be remodeled to share the site with the store, the newspaper reported.

"There's no remodeling that," fire Capt. Dave Parker told the newspaper as he glanced at the smoldering building.