Volume 27, Issue 6- November/December 2013

New Views
Glass Helps Re-Shape the Look of Downtown Buffalo
by John Hollis

It’s the first leg of Buffalo, N.Y.’s, downtown renaissance, a key part in a regional goal to bring vitality back to the city and a once-thriving waterfront area. The first building to be completed in the Buffalo Canalside District Development Master Plan, OneCanalside, is expected to set the tone to the city’s waterfront rebirth by paying homage to the Canal Systems (Erie Canal) that helped Buffalo become what it is today.

Originally designed as a federal office building several decades ago, OneCanalside required a complete makeover in order to meet all of the design guidelines and time frames set forth by the Erie Canal Harbor Development Committee (ECHDC). To meet performance and energy standards, the building essentially needed to be skinned entirely and re-fitted. That meant doing away with a curtainwall system that was “outdated, inefficient and dilapidated,” says Philip S. DiNicola, R.A., principal at Orchard Park, N.Y.-based Fontanese Folts Aubrecht Ernst Architects P.C., the company overseeing the project. “The bones of the building were in very good shape, and being a part of a district that is paying tribute to its past, it seemed most logical to salvage as much of the building as possible. Also, every building in the district is to be at least LEED Silver certified, so it was a benefit to reuse as much of the structure as possible,” says DiNicola.

Team Work
A project of this nature requires the cooperation of all the entities involved. Buffalo-based Sterling Glass Inc. served as the lead contractor, while United Plate Glass (UPG) of Butler, Pa., fabricated all the glass involved. The spandrel paint was applied by Monroe, Ohio-based Glass Coatings and Concepts.

Guardian’s SunGuard SNR 43 in a 1-inch double-glazed (1/2-inch air gap) system was used for the vision units, while 1-inch insulating units with a ¼-inch warm gray ceramic frit were installed at the spandrel locations in the curtainwall portions.

The company’s SNR 43 in a 1-inch insulating unit with a ¼-inch charcoal ceramic frit was also used in locations that needed spandrel glazing; special care was taken to make sure it matched the look of the vision unit. To further enhance the building’s aesthetic, 1-inch insulating glass units with a ¼-inch lite of glass that had been treated with a copper color coating were installed at the lower portion of the punched openings to create a banding around the building.

In the Details

But making the project work came with its share of challenges, too. The building is located within 150 feet of an elevated interstate, light rail, and passenger/freight railways convergence, meaning something had to be done to minimize the large volume of noise the industrial area would consistently generate.

A high-performing acoustic glazing system designed to provide a comfortable workspace for the office space on the upper four floors and respite for the hotel space on the lower floors provided the answer in the form of a triple pane ¼-inch glass – ½-inch air space – ¼-inch glass – 4¾-inch air space – ¼-inch tempered glass.

That gave us a minimum 40-decibel reduction in sound from the plus 80-decibel average noise level outside the building,” says DiNicola.

The completion of the OneCanalside project comes as especially welcome news to those from the Buffalo area.

“The rebirth of Buffalo’s downtown and in particular its waterfront has been a popular regional goal and topic of regional planning in all arenas for quite some time,” says DiNicola. “Our professional satisfaction derives from delivering a successful green design that is a LEED silver-rated project and goes further in that it is an equally successful adaptive reuse of the existing Canalside District’s urban fabric. Our personal satisfaction is based upon the privilege of playing a role in our hometown’s waterfront rebirth and helping to move another step closer in renewing the vitality of the Queen City’s once-thriving and flourishing city center.

Architects' Guide to Glass & Metal
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