One of Flynn Battaglia Architects’ signature projects – the restoration of Adler & Sullivan’s Guaranty Building, which is located in downtown Buffalo, NY – now has a dedicated interpretive museum open to the public. Flynn Battaglia Architects worked with the building’s Owner, Hodgson Russ Attorneys LLP, and Hadley Exhibits to bring to life the new Interpretive Center, which is located on the ground level of the Guaranty Building. How many times have you driven by and noticed passersby looking up at the ornate terra cotta detail work? Now visitors can enjoy a reception space and exhibits that cover topics spanning the early history of tall buildings, the Guaranty Building’s importance in that history and as a landmark in American Architecture, the significance of Dankmar Adler, Louis Sullivan and others who impacted the creation of this masterpiece and related exhibits discussing the technological advances that contributed to the building’s eminence.
One of the highlights within the Interpretive Center is the ¼ inch = one foot scale model of the Guaranty Building built by Alfred State Professor of Architecture David Carli, AIA and students in the Alfred State Architecture Program. Dave and his team surveyed the upper floors of the building including the highly ornamental cornice using perspective correcting cameras and drone technology and built the model using a combination of existing drawings, survey footage and historic photographs. The model includes a high level of detail that extends into the interior of the first floor including light fixtures and the original tile pattern on the floor. The model is a representation of what the building looked like in 1896, which helps observers understand the many modifications to the building that were made throughout its history.
The interpretive center features 7 narrative exhibits as well as a complete timeline documenting the changes made to the building. There is also a short film located in its own kiosk that gives an overview of the importance of the building. Much of the content for the exhibits was written and researched by Michael Lennon, AIA from Flynn Battaglia Architects and collaborated on by Peter Flynn, AIA as well as personnel from Hodgson Russ LLP and Hadley Exhibits.
Current personnel at Flynn Battaglia Architects have been involved in the restoration of the Guaranty Building since the original restoration that was undertaken in the 1980s. Several successive campaigns of restoration work have been completed from the 1990s to the present that include recreation of the original projected storefront, cleaning decades of accumulated soot from Buffalo’s industrial past off the exterior and fabrication and replacement of over 200 pieces of varying shapes and sizes of the distinctive terra cotta veneer. At the interior, original art glass ceiling panels, ornamental metals and the marble tesserae frieze were repaired and restored. Heavy-handed 1960s “modernizations” that replaced the open grille work cages at the elevators and the elaborate balustrades at the open stair in order to comply with contemporary building codes were removed in the lobby areas of the building open to the public. Restored assemblies were installed that incorporated equivalent fire safety measures to permit their reintroduction. In the last decade, additional work was needed to correct some of the restored features from the 1980s work that failed for technical reasons or to accommodate new spatial needs as the building adapted from multi-tenant office space into offices for a single tenant – Hodgson Russ Attorneys LLP. Hodgson Russ has also retained FBA to address additional restoration efforts that the 1980s budget could not afford such as window restoration, restoration of the light well glazed brick, and reconstruction of the sidewalk and the accessibility ramp at the main entrance. Also reestablishing the original floor plan on the ground, first and second floors and restoring the original ornamental elevator cage and the main stairway. Hodgson Russ has enthusiastically embraced their stewardship of this benchmark building in the evolution of a uniquely American building type: the tall office building.
The Interpretive Center is open during business hours from Monday through Friday and is frequently available on the weekends. Visitors must check in at the Security Desk just inside the main entrance on Pearl Street.