HHL Architects have unveiled a new mural on the side of their building at 172 Allen Street. Business partner Matthew Meier, AIA, told me that the original pencil drawing was done by one of HHL’s longtime Associate Architects, Christopher Guerra in 1988. According to Meier, Guerra completed the sketch before coming on board with the HHL team 30 years ago. “Guerra is an experienced renderer and loves Buffalo,” Meier told me. “The work has been admired for three decades by architecture fans and his peers. On July 2, we will be celebrating our 50 year anniversary, and we wanted to mark the occasion with a mural, but not just any mural – it’s interesting to note that HHL has worked on most of the historic buildings featured in the work. So it’s a nod to the city’s resurgence, and a calling card for HHL.”
Meier told me that the new mural also honors the legacy of HHL Architects founding partners, Michael Hamilton, RA, Frederic Houston, RA, and Theodore Lownie, RA. HHL’s current partners Meier and Kenneth Riter, AIA, felt that Guerra’s mural would be a great gift to the Allentown community – a community that has always put art first. In fact, Meier mentioned a little anecdote to me, which I thought was a lot of fun. He said that when he was dating his now wife, he took her to the Towne Restaurant for a meal (this was before he was even an architect). As he looked out the window, he spied the 172 Allen Street building, and said, “That’s where I want to live some day.” Lo and behold, all these years later he would be a partner at the architecture firm that inhabits that same building. “And now I’m here more than at my own house,” joked Meier [laughing]. “If you think about it, it’s been a collision of unusual coincidences. Early on, this was one of the first adaptive reuse buildings – it was almost unheard of back then. Now we’re carrying on with that legacy. A good portion of local architects have stepped through HHL at one point. That’s why we’re having a ‘family reunion’ of sorts on July 2. We’re inviting previous HHL employees back to celebrate our 50th. The mural helps to tell that story.”
The mural itself was printed as a vinyl graphic and installed by VSP Graphic Group. The work is certainly apropos for Allentown in so many ways. It was unveiled just before the Allentown Art Festival to add a little cultural pizzazz to the event, and continues to speak for the rich culture and heritage of the city.