September 2018


Another Buffalo early skyscraper that I researched is the Ellicott Square Building. It’s a lot bigger than the Dun Building, but not in as good condition. Particularly, the loss of its cornice hurts. But look at that entry on Main Street. The masonry emphasizing the entrance, the bronze doors, the lettering between the doors and the transom…this was an important structure and it told you so.

Taste is personal, and if someone doesn’t like the American Renaissance style, that’s fine with me. But you’d be hard-pressed to find a post-WWII building that makes a ceremony of entrance in this manner, that elevates even for a second the ordinary event of opening a door.

If Given The Option

September 29, 2018

I was offered a “view room” at the APT conference hotel in Buffalo. I took it. That’s the west side of downtown Buffalo, with Lake Erie off in the distance.

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Meeting An Old Friend For The First Time – The Dun Building

September 28, 2018

That’s a picture of the Dun Building in Buffalo, taken as I was walking to the dinner organized for the students participating in the bridge competition run by the APTI’s Preservation Engineering Technical Committee. I’ve been in Buffalo a few time before and may have walked past the Dun Building, but if I did I have no […]

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Industrial Fetish

September 25, 2018

That short video shows an elevator indicator in the APT conference hotel. It’s a touchscreen, and the best thing about it is that you can touch the pictures of various parts of the hotel and that floor will be selected. The second best thing about it is that it’s reasonably accurate, and can tell which […]

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Industrial Chic

September 23, 2018

Buffalo has a storied industrial past, so I guess this table belongs in a hotel lobby.

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Travel Day

September 22, 2018

I’m on the old New York Central main line today, headed up to Buffalo for the APT conference. I’ve tried to set up blog posts ahead of time, but posting may be spotty or strangely topical for the next week.

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It Doesn’t Go Away

September 21, 2018

Philip K. Dick once wrote “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.” That line is in some ways the opposite of a joke that I sometimes hear* that a damaged or seemingly improbable structure “forgot to fall down.” Structures are quite dumb: all they do is transmit forces in […]

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An Old Idea Is A Simple Fix

September 20, 2018

The article “Low-income neighborhoods would gain the most from green roofs in cities like Chicago” provides a nice summary of one of the main reasons to use green roofs: they lower indoor temperatures during the peak summer heat. In old-fashioned cityscapes (i.e., city areas that are not dominated by roads and parking lots), roofs are a […]

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Preserved In A Name

September 19, 2018

That’s a picture of the Macombs* Dam Bridge over the Harlem River. It’s 123 years old and has two main spans: a swing bridge over the river (that rotates to clear the channel, if needed) and a truss over the low-lying land on the Bronx shore (occupied for a long time by railroad tracks). “Dam […]

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Where People Are And When

September 18, 2018

Mark Twain once ended a satire of predicting the future from current trends with the line “There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.” Put another way, statistics only have as much meaning as the underlying numbers. The headline “Why New York Isn’t […]

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