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  • Writer's pictureJillian Stern

Our History with Historical Buildings

History shapes us into who we are. It teaches us what we should do differently, and how we can change to be better. Its importance shines through culture and traditions, food, and architecture. Preserving historical buildings and areas, and staying under code while working on them, is something we have experience in!

elite|studio e has had many opportunities to work in many buildings included on the National Register of Historic Places. As a result, we understand that sometimes in order to maintain the integrity of the exterior you need to get creative with the interior renovation. This is especially true when addressing foodservice equipment, health codes, etc. Some of the historical buildings we have worked on include the Liberty Island is Manhattan, NY; Guggenheim Museum in Manhattan, NY; Guaranty Building in Buffalo, NY; and the Walker Hotel in Manhattan, NY.

Typically, any historical building has stringent rules on what contractors can and can’t do. For example, making holes and penetrations for new exhausts. Elevators are tough because if they are original, getting items up a space becomes more involved and extra protection is a necessity. There are loads of insurance and special waivers, as well as certain working hours that need to be abided by.

St. Bartholomew's Church | Manhattan, NY

Our Senior Vice President of Project Solutions, Aaron, has worked closely with the foodservice operator at New York City's iconic, Inside Park at St. Bart's. Yes, there is a restaurant inside the Great Hall of this church! In delivering a gorgeous wine bar, we knew we could not disrupt the beautiful painted terracotta walls throughout the space, so much of the work for the Entoria Wine Bar was within the auditorium stage. The location makes the Entoria Wine Bar a focal point of the restaurant and modernizes the room without compromising the surrounding architecture.

The photos above show the Entoria Wine Bar as well as the exterior of St. Bartholomew's. Learn more about our work on this project.

The Empire State Building | Manhattan, NY

Our team has also had the opportunity to collaborate with architects on various offices at The Empire State Building. One of the world's most magnificent Art Deco skyscrapers, it's a living piece of New York history and for decades has severed as an instantly recognizable symbol of New York City. On one particular project, Aaron and our design team collaborated with the project architect for a new amenity space within the Empire State Building. This project incorporated specific ornamentation and dramatic shapes to align with the building's unique personality. Its famous and recognizable attributes were also taken into consideration, while modernizing one of the interior foodservice experiences.

The Guaranty Building | Buffalo, NY

If you've ever been to Buffalo, New York, something that stands out (besides Buffalo wings, of course) is the Guaranty Building, formally known as the Prudential Building. At 152 ft tall, and a young age of 126 years, this building is a shining jewel amongst others in Buffalo. It was built by Louis Sullivan, the Father of the Skyscraper, and Dankmar Adler.

The Guaranty Building features incredibly beautiful detail on the exterior. Using terra cotta, ornament is the focus covering two full exterior surfaces; and, despite a fire in the 1970s, the interior was preserved and renovated to embrace some of its original charms. When working on a historical project like this, one of our Vice Presidents of Project Solutions (in this case it was Chad), takes photos, not only for typical site visit purposes, but also to provide the Design Team with a feel of the build design, features and accents. Lamps, elevator door panels, ceilings, and everything in between is captured to paint a picture of the character of the space and preserve it.

Following an extensive two-year renovation of the Guaranty Building interior, Hodgson Russ LLP (who owns the building now), desired a modern café in the existing footprint. The café looked old and dated in comparison to the rest of the office. So, our Project Designers embraced design elements from building and combined them with the desired executive feel of a law firm to create a dining experience featuring a café, barista bar with grab & go, and a collaborative dining space.

The photos above illustrate design elements that were incorporated into the Hodgson Russ dining space, including the brick walls and the Prudential sign, which pays homage to the building's owner in 1898.

The team at elite|studio e understands that when designing and building foodservice experiences in historical buildings, a priority will always be to preserve the historic character of a building’s exterior (and possibly components of the interior). It is necessary to be meticulous in the process, from start to finish. As important these relics are, we need to work within them with care and caution.

Your historic building project, isn't a new lesson for us. We have history with history.


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