While the region was rolling out the red carpet during the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the historic Guaranty Building pulled back its shades to show off an amazing first floor interior. Normally the shades remain closed, leaving passersby to imagine what the inside beholds. It’s been a pet peeve of mine for a long time. After the multitude of the renovations that were conducted on the building, all totaled $22,000,000, the public rarely gets to take a peek inside, which is unfortunate. This is not to say that Hodgson Russ, the law firm that occupies the building (and ponied up for the restoration), isn’t good about opening the building for tours – they are. I would assume that the reason that they draw the shades closed is to buffer the conference rooms (there are four visible from the street) from gawkers when a meeting is in session. The problem is, in-between meetings the shades remain drawn. When the shades are drawn, the building looks foreboding from the sidewalk – day and night (especially at night when there are no meetings in session). You would think that the law firm would want to showcase the building in its best light whenever possible. Now that the National Trust is over, the shades will most likely go back to being drawn.
This is not an issue that solely applies to the Guaranty Building. For some reason there are many buildings downtown (and in other parts of the city) that shutter up during day and night. I’ve seen it happen with restaurants, non-profits, realtors, law firms, etc. It’s time to shine… it’s time to show off… it’s time to think about what messages we are sending out to the public on a regular basis.
There are certain businesses that understand the importance of showcasing interiors effectively – take Hamilton, Houston, Lownie (image below) on Allen Street for example. The architecture firm broadcasts its image via its windows (gorgeous conference room) day and night. HHL adds welcome vibrancy and sophistication to Allentown, even though it’s not a business that many of us have ever walked into.
On the flip side, Realty USA (image below) offices at the corner of Tupper and Delaware have some of the most amazing display windows in the city. Like the Guaranty Building, the shades are always drawn shut. Just think about all of the commuters (eyeballs) on Tupper that never even bat an eye as they pass by. Talk about a missed opportunity. It wouldn’t be hard to create attractive displays that would appeal to drivers, even if the displays were artistic in nature. After all, it’s not as important to over-commercialize windows as it is to make them attractive. Isn’t Realty USA in the business of selling real estate (not shades)?
The next time you go to work, think about the message that your business is broadcasting to the public. There might be a quick fix that would help to make your neighborhood more attractive and welcoming. In the end, it might actually be good for business!