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Inside Look: Emerson Culinary School

Redevelopment of the C.W. Miller Livery Stable at 73 W. Huron Street as a second Emerson School of Hospitality is in high gear.  Mark Croce’s Buffalo Development Corporation is teaming up with McGuire Development on the nearly $40 million project that was designed by Kideney Architects.

The C.W. Livery Stable, designed by Buffalo architects Lansing and Beierl and constructed between 1892 and 1894, is on the National Register of Historic Places.  The building features unusual engineering due to it being constructed on an historic creek bed.  The weight of the building’s floors are supported by roof girders; each floor is held up by steel straps pinned to trusses from the floor above.  Due to this engineering, the first floor of the building was column free.

Trusses on sixth floor carry the weight of the floors below.

Straps that tie into ceiling beams, carrying the floor below.

Buffalo Construction Consultants, Inc. is serving as project manager.  Approximately 65 workers are on site daily working to complete the work by December so that classes can start in January 2020.  Brian Kelley and Senior Project Manager Mark Wendling from Buffalo Construction Consultants led a tour of the complex recently.

According to Kelley, the building was in rough shape, particularly the deteriorated roof and extensive rotten wood on the interior.  The building is a virtual fortress however with exterior walls three feet thick in the basement tapering to two feet at the top of the building.  The brickwork has held up fairly well but will require re-pointing on the exterior he says.

To prepare for the new school, crews removed the building’s first floor including an area that served as a blacksmith shop, ripped out a ramp that led to the second level, removed a freight elevator that was used to lift buggies to the upper floors, and removed three cars that were ‘stranded’ on the top floor using a crane.

First floor steel work being removed (L); New basement floor (R) and below.

Basement and start of first floor steel framework.

A new basement floor has been poured and steel work is going in to support a new first floor; a building within a building.   The basement will contain electrical and support space, plus food and program storage.

Sliding door to be reused.

There weren’t many historic elements in the building to preserve.  One set of sliding doors will be reused.  Original windows were not salvageable but the new windows are being custom made to fit the twenty sizes and shapes of windows in the complex.

A tall lobby/concierge space at the southwest corner of the building will act as an upscale hotel-like entry point serving as the public restaurant space and the school’s main entry.  The restaurant along W. Huron Street will feature a private dining room for intimate functions.  The north/rear side of the building will accommodate deliveries and distribution space for food supplies entering the building, with direct access to a freight/service elevator.  The balance of the floor is dedicated to a teaching kitchen/culinary lab, prep, and support space.

Work on the upper floors is at the drywall stage.  These floors feature 12-foot ceilings.  The main administrative offices for the school will be located on the second floor along West Huron.  A large and divisible banquet/special event space along with back-of-house teaching spaces for food prep/serving and a bakery are on the second floor as well.

The second floor also provides access to a full-size gymnasium now taking shape on the west side of the building.  The 5,000 sq.ft., two-story gym is being built on piers to accommodate staff parking and a covered entryway below.

Traditional interchangeable school classrooms, including a dedicated art room, as well as offices for guidance and the school nurse are located on the third floor.  Many of the classrooms have exposed brickwork on the exterior walls.

The fourth floor contains traditional interchangeable and special education classrooms.  Additional classrooms and dedicated science rooms are located on the fifth floor.

Future stairwell.

The sixth floor has the most striking interior of the building, due to the structural trusses and bracing. This floor will accommodate large open-plan spaces including the cafeteria and library. Computer and resource rooms will also be on this level.  Due to fire code requirements, the trusses had to be framed in two layers of dry wall.  Even unexposed, the features will be a unique element to the building.

“The programming has been laid out to maximize the use of the property,” says Croce.  “It’s looking pretty impressive.”

The 100,000 sq.ft. school will complement the existing Emerson School on W. Chippewa Street, creating an easily accessible urban campus for students and faculty. The two locations will not be physically connected.  The new school is expected to broaden Emerson’s academic offerings to include marketing and hospitality and sports management.

Croce believes the location will help connect students to these types of jobs. They can be employed right out of school,” he says.

“This is the premier site for the school,” says Croce. “We are right in the heart of the hospitality district.”

Second stairwell location.
Steel beam with iron worker note: “C.W. Miller”
Improvised pipe holder on the building’s fifth floor.


Written by WCPerspective


Buffalo and development junkie currently exiled in California.

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