I find that many people have difficulty seeing past a given building’s current state of repair to imagine what it could be. Therefore, given the Trico Plant’s current condition, it is not hard to see why many find it easy to dismiss the building’s architectural merits and redevelopment potential. To enhance the Trico discussion, I made the renderings which accompany this post and a simple diagram to illustrate how the building could be broken up into residential, office, retail and parking.
I should note that before making these renderings, even I also hadn’t fully realized the building’s architectural merits. To my eye, it was handsome, but rather plain. However, once the superficial layers of flaking paint, bricked-in windows, and rusted metal doors were washed away, I began to notice all the details and idiosyncrasies that make this building terribly delightful: the careful pattern of the windows, the bold repetition of pediments, the rhythm of white buttresses, the pair of beautiful classical entrances on the building’s northwest corner, the stone and corbeled brick of the cold storage building integrated in the plant’s eastern façade, and the peculiar massing of a building that has grown over time. I hope these renderings help to show others what a treasure this building truly is, particularly if it were scrubbed clean and repurposed.
The diagram shows just one of many ways the building could be successfully reprogrammed. By carving a central courtyard out of the building, it can be reused for housing and offices. It’s worth mentioning that courtyards have been approved in similar projects that received historic tax credits. This plan would make way for approximately eighty-five 1,500 – 2,500 sq. ft. apartments or condos (yellow), 100,000 sq. ft. of office space (dark and light blue), 200+ parking spaces (grey) and 18,000 sq. ft. of retail and commercial space (red). The office space is divided into dark and light blue to show a possible distribution between ECC and the Innovation Center. It’s also possible that a brewery could use the cold storage portion of the building, which is why that section is shown in red. I kept retail space to a relative minimum as I feel that this business should really be located right on Main Street. This is also just a jumping off point; similar local projects like the Larkin at Exchange, the Tri-Main center, and in North Tonawanda show the versatility of these formerly industrial buildings.
The Trico Plant is exactly the kind of building that should receive reinvestment. It is positioned precisely where a building of this scale should be located. It is mere blocks away from two subway stops and adjacent to the fastest growing job center in Western New York. Historic preservation dollars spent here would do immense things for the city and region by aligning job density with residential density, and complementing investments that have already been made in mass transit and existing infrastructure. To top it all off, such a project would preserve a building with real historic value that adds to Buffalo’s sense of place, which in my view is the region’s most salient economic advantage.
See the rest of the renderings via flickr – http://flic.kr/s/aHsjzdkUzx
Nicholas Miller graduated from The Ohio State University with a B.A. in Urban Geography and Economics in 2010. He and his partner currently live in Detroit where he works in the GIS field.