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Flipping the switch at the Richardson Olmsted Complex

The stabilization activities complete and underway for the Richardson Olmsted Complex total $10 million. Until this point, most of the stabilization efforts have been out of sight due to ongoing work being performed inside the structures of the complex. The night before last, a switch was flipped on that, for the first time, illuminated the entire perimeter of the complex, and within minutes photographer Joe Cascio was on the scene capturing the achievement (visit Joe’s site for explosive images of Buffalo). I spoke to Monica Pellegrino Faix, Project Coordinator for the Richardson Center Corporation, who was not only pleased with the results, she was also happy to report that the by the end of the year the buildings will no longer be in jeopardy of collapsing and will be protected by the elements. From Monica:

“This is the full lighting that we planned for. The positions of the lights will be tweaked, but for the most part that part of the project is complete… the design work was $105,000 and the installation was $643,000. Luckily, the bids came in a bit low because of the economy – O’Connell Electric did the job and the Dormitory Authority oversaw the work. The first order of business was for safety and security. We wanted to be able to illuminate the nooks and crannies of the building. The added benefit was the great aesthetic features. The towers were lit up at least four years ago, before I even came onboard with the project. As for this massive lighting effort, it was a daunting task since lighting up a complex of this size, in this way, is unprecedented. You’re not usually dealing with 480,000 sq.’ – we had no models to follow. We used IBC Engineering to guide us on the electrical design. In addition to design work it also required the Buffalo Psychiatric Center to reconnect to their electric – it was a really significant job to reconnect the whole electric service.

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“As much as the lighting is exciting, we’ve completed a number of interior structural advancements to keep the buildings from deteriorating. Building 39 (second one in from the end) had several weak areas. There are now phenomenal braces inside of it. We are also doing a little bit of work on building 38 (the furthest one). All of the shoring up will be finished by the end of the year. Next we’ll be sealing up the holes, ventilating and sealing up the roofs and putting up the plastic on the windows. That should keep the water out of the buildings. We’re also abating and cleaning the tower building and the wards on either side ($4,000,000). The other outside piece is that we are completing our emergency landscape work. We’re dealing with the dead and the dying trees and we’re pruning the trees that will remain. We did the first phase a month ago. The Olmsted Conservancy has been helping to either prune or remove the trees. We coupled that with the expertise of the landscape architect at The Conservancy in order to identify which trees would have been Olmstedian or not. For now we are only taking them down if they are hazardous. We’ll be removing about 150 trees and stumps and we’ll be pruning about 160. After the first of the year, we should have more details to share on the ongoing progress.”

Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

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