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The Guaranty Building, in Buffalo, New York, is recognized worldwide for its groundbreaking engineering, architectural design, and celebrity. It is heralded as one of the first modern skyscrapers, being constructed with an entirely steel frame. Designed by renowned American architect, Louis Sullivan, mentor to Frank Loyd Wright, the Guaranty Building embodies modernism with influences of Art Nouveau and the English Arts & Crafts movement. The twelve-floor structure exemplifies Sullivan’s creed that “form follows function” and is elaborately decorated with ornamental features inside and out; one of his trademarks. The Guaranty Building opened its doors in 1895.
Hodgson Russ Attorneys have been instrumental in preservation initiatives surrounding this National Historic Landmark for more than three decades. When the opportunity arose, the firm purchased the building as a means for consolidating their headquarter operations into one location. Recently, Hodgson Russ implemented an extensive renovation and restoration of the structure to both modernize the facility and ensure that the Guaranty Building remains a testament to past ingenuities and one of the nation’s great architectural treasures.
O’Connell is often contacted for historical renovation projects, where craftsmanship and attention to detail are paramount. We have broad experience working on high-profile, historical landmarks and renovation and restoration projects. As one of America’s most important architectural landmarks, the Guaranty Building ranks among our most prestigious.
O’Connell was hired early-on to consult with the project’s architect and engineer in helping create budgets and determine the renovation specifications contractors would bid against. We fine-tuned budget numbers against a progressive series of drawings until they were at 100%. Exclusive from the bid package, O’Connell was entrusted with renovating the front exterior of the Guaranty Building as well as the front interior atrium, two showcase areas that Hodgson Russ did not want to leave to chance with an unfamiliar contractor. After the bids were in, O’Connell came away with a contract for $2.4 million.
The scope of electrical construction involved demolition and gutting of all existing electrical infrastructure before constructing new power distribution and emergency backup systems, lighting, safety, and security systems, communications, audio visual, and a data control center. On one Saturday we orchestrated the shut down of Pearl Street, a main city thoroughfare, to enable access for a crane to lift a 350KW generator onto the roof.
The historical renovations for this project are the real story. After more than 100 years, much of the Guaranty Building’s original interior and exterior ornamentals had been preserved. Protection of these assets during demolition and construction was vital. Great care was taken to prevent damage to the exotic woods, hand-cut tile, granite, stamped terra cotta, brass decore, facades, and fixtures which were restored to stay true to the building’s original design and styling.
Approximately 3000 square feet of decorative stained glass adorns three ceilings of the building’s main lobby and adjoining atrium. O’Connell installed an advanced technology LED backlighting system that allows for patterned and section illumination as well as dimming control. O’Connell workers systematically removed each original 6’ x 6’ section with painstaking care, immediately protecting and storing them until they were reinstalled.
O’Connell removed the large original brass gas lanterns mounted on the building’s exterior and converted them for electric usage. Inside, we also converted the gas lamp fixtures that hang from the lobby ceiling into electric. O’Connell installed lighting in the elevator shaft of the first few floors that incorporate an open-design where the elevators and background can be seen through a combination of glass and brass.
Tenant move-in was sequenced with the renovation schedule, starting with the top floors, in addition to the newly renovated basement that was converted into a high-end kitchen and dining center. O’Connell facilitated each Hodgson Russ relocation into the building through round-the-clock Friday evening to Monday morning schedules so employees would have seamless transitions with no down-time. Special practices were employed to help ensure the safety of both tenants and workers in a construction environment that was partially occupied.