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The American Radiator Company Factory Complex

Primary Facade Drawing, 1909
Exterior During Rehab
Laboratory During Rehab
Office Hallway Before Rehab
Office Hallway After Rehab
Millwork Wall Before Rehab
Millwork Wall After Rehab
Development of the Complex

The American Radiator Company Factory Complex

1807 Elmwood Avenue, Buffalo, NY

  • Date Built: 1891-1952
  • Total QREs: $9,806,000
  • Total HTCs: $4,903,000, Federal; $4,903,000 State.

Preservation Studios’ Role:

Preservation Studios completed the Part One of the Historic Preservation Certification Application and the National Register Nomination. Additionally, Preservation Studios help to explain the intricacies of what National Register listing meant to the owners who still utilize the factory complex while allowing a portion to be sold off for redevelopment.

History:

The American Radiator Company had a sizable plant located along the NYCRR Belt Line at 1807 Elmwood Avenue, but was not the first to use the size and facility. Originally, the site was occupied by the Pierce Steam Heating Company and was later expanded by the American Radiator Company. Their most notable addition to the factory complex was their highly ornate Institute of Thermal Research building placed at the front of the complex. The Institute was built in 1910 and designed by Schmidt, Garden, & Martin of Chicago then later expanded in 1924, which was handled by local architects Bley & Lyman. The building exemplifies features unique to the administration building type, including more ornate primary and secondary facades to capitalize its location along a major thoroughfare, landscape design features, as well the functional separation of office and research space from the remainder of the facilities. Its location, design, materials, and workmanship all evoke the feeling of a building associated with one of the largest radiator manufacturers in the country during the early 20th-century and epitomizes the administrative building type found on many factory complexes around the county.

Though primarily known for research, the Institute contained two wings of ornately detailed offices and a large lecture room, serving as a demonstration space and administrative center for the Complex. The Institute’s primary and secondary facades (west and north respectively) are more ornate than the rest of the building and serve as a buffer against the utilitarian industrial buildings to its east, and a rolling green lawn with mature trees and deep setback from the street distinguish the Institute along this section of Elmwood Avenue. The original 1910 center wing has a prominent pavilion which transitions into the brick cornice capped with copper and extending above the roofline. Limestone steps lead to the only entrance on this elevation, centered on the building. The pilasters around the entrance are more pronounced than around any other windows, with articulated bases and a square, stepped capital, featuring a stone shield overlay that begins in the capitals and extends into the cornice. These shields visually support a simple stone cornice proclaiming the building as the “Institute of Thermal Research.” The composition is completed with a stone parapet stating “American Radiator Company” and was added in 1924 as part of the north and south wing additions.

Rocco Termini rehabilitated the Institute building for new apartments while respecting the original paths of circulation, exterior integrity, and interior architectural features. The Institute still evokes the feeling of an administration and laboratory building while serving its new use.


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