Kodak demolishes 92 year old factory from a bygone era

Kodak put paid to an era of its once powerful film manufacturing business this week with the demolition of a 92 year old manufacturing building, which was once one of its main manufacturing sites.

Kodak used 100 pounds of dynamite to bring down the 250,000 square-foot plant at Eastman Business Park in Rochester, New York, which was reduced to 1500 tonnes of steel and concrete in just 20 seconds.

The building was once used by Kodak to manufacture acetate bae for camera film, and had 50,000 employees working at its premises during the peak of Kodak’s reign in the days of film photography.

The number of current workers has now dwindled to 1,000, with the industrial complex now being redesigned to allow other companies to share it with Kodak.

A second plant in the Eastman Business Park is still operational and will continue to produce acetate film base for Kodak.

Kodak demolitions a result of the digital age

The destruction of the New York building was the latest in a number of demolitions undertaken by the company in the past 12 years.

Kodak has spent $200m in demolishing around 45 buildings since 2003.

The demolitions have been seen as a symbolic reflection of the demise of Kodak as a photography manufacturer.

This demise which led to the company filing for Chapter 11 protection was mainly due to Kodak’s inability to prepare for or adapt to the market change to digital photography.

Kodak’s top management stubbornly held onto the notion that people would never part with hard prints, and didn’t see digital photography as the threat.

Digital cameras, however, did indeed take over the marketplace, with companies such as Sony able to capitalise on Kodak’s misstep; by bypassing its rivals’ distribution network and making digital cameras available in electronic retail outlets.

Despite its fall from the top of the photography market, Kodak continues to produce a range of products including Black & White and Colour Negative Films, colour paper and display media materials, image enhancement plug-ins, photographic chemicals and photography software.

New plans for the Kodak site

Kokak's Eastman Business Park is to be redeveloped in conjunction with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to accelerate development of next generation batteries and energy storage devices - image courtesy of Kokak.
Kokak’s Eastman Business Park is to be redeveloped in conjunction with the Oak Ridge National Laboratory to accelerate development of next generation batteries and energy storage devices – image courtesy of Kokak.

Kodak and the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the largest science and energy laboratory for the US Department of Energy, entered into an agreement in June to accelerate manufacturing of next generation battery and energy storage devices and materials.

The agreement is to transform the development and manufacturing of new products in the clean energy sector by connecting emerging companies with resources at both Oak Ridge and Kodak’s Eastman Business Park (EBP). In doing so, it is also meant to spark the formation of new, high-tech entrepreneurial companies at EBP, resulting in the creation of new, high-skilled jobs within New York’s Finger Lakes Region.

“The diverse capabilities of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, spanning a wide range of scientific and engineering disciplines, will support accelerated development of the growing base of clean energy companies at Eastman Business Park,” said John McMullen, Kodak’s Chief Financial Officer.