When you grow up with interesting architecture, you grow up with an interest in architecture. Having done both, I'm convinced that beautiful buildings enter your bloodstream long before you are aware that it's happened. Buffalo, New York — the city where I grew up — has some of the best representative works of the nation’s three greatest architects of the late 19th and early 20th centuries: H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is the only city other than Chicago that can claim that architectural trifecta. I've been familiar with their Buffalo work forever but it was only this past Spring that I finally made it inside some of those masterpieces.
I'd driven past Louis Sullivan's Guaranty Building (Adler and Sullivan, 1895-96) for years but had never been inside. I think I may have made the right move by never going inside before as it finally has been restored to its glorious good looks which were never more evident than on a sunny Spring morning.
Sullivan called this building a "sister" to his Wainwright Building in St. Louis, where he first expressed the verticality of this new type of structure, the skyscraper. Sullivan, in fact, is considered the "Father of the Skyscraper." The book, "Buffalo Architecture: A Guide," calls this building Sullivan's "most mature skyscraper."
The book notes that the Guaranty Building expresses Sullivan's "commitment to democratic ideals, natural forms and to evolving a truly American architecture free of neoclassical excesses." The building's ornamentation was inspired by seedpods, flowers and at the top, the spreading branches of a tree.
Ornament — no matter the material — is clearly the focus of the building. Two full exterior surfaces are covered with terra cotta.
Inside are dramatic decorative metal work, stained glass and marble mosaics. The lobby was restored to simulate the original light court.
These have to be the most beautiful elevators in any commercial building in the country.
The workmanship and design is just breathtaking.
These original glass storefronts are business spaces and conference rooms. Talk about an office with a window!
You can tour the public spaces on the first floor and there is a room with beautiful architectural drawings and information about the history and design of the Guaranty Building. You can see from the reflection in the window that Buffalo is filled with great buildings and well-worth a stop next time you are in the area.
The driveway is officially finished. When Matt asked whether it had turned out the way we anticipated, both Mark and I told him it was so much more dramatic and beautiful than we had imagined. Here are some photos from the last bits of construction. I'm planning one last post to show some of the details because the way the pavers and boulders all fit together to create a seamless whole is striking.
You can see that there is just the last bit of driveway to be compacted and fitted with pavers. But they ran out of bricks, so Matt picked up another palette in his truck. That meant that they had to figure out a way to get them out of the truck and at the spot they needed them. So the guys came up with this "slide" process.
Down to the last row of pavers which all need to be cut and fitted at the curb.
Mark sets the last full size paver in the driveway at 12:48 p.m. on Wednesday, July 30.
Next the long sides of the driveway were finished. Here Matt is cutting a long curve with the diamond saw.
Leftover brick bits from all the cuts that Matt made fitting bricks up to rocks and along the edges of both sides.
This side has a straight edge except where it curves toward the street. You can see the edging put in along the side with big spikes to keep everything in place.
Among the last tasks was setting two stones in the quirky space next to the big rock adjacent to the house.
It involved more cutting and fitting than Matt had hoped.
These photos make it look like he could just push it in place with one hand but this was a very heavy stone and took a lot of effort to move.
Getting it perfectly positioned.
The last step was to brush sand into the spaces between the pavers and then compact it. This took an entire day.
I helped with this just enough to know that it was more tiring and difficult than it looks.
We had a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official end of the project at 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 4th.
Matt and Mark survey their work. If you look at the pavers you can just see that the very last step in this project was to hose down the driveway to make sure the water ran downhill properly and also to be sure that the sand was correctly compacted and did not wash out. It passed both tests with no problems.
One last post to come: The Details.
If you want to see this how this complex driveway project unfolded from start to finish CLICK HERE. Remember that the most recent post is always at the top. If you want to start from the beginning and follow along in the correct chronological order, you must scroll down to the "last" post in this entire group — which is actually the first segment I put on line. It is well worth looking at these pictures so you understand the stages of a job like this and also see the care with which Matt Wieneke does his work.
These shots are from last week as pavers were being laid and the complex job of fitting all the pieces together was happening every day. Here Matt is cutting the pavers into the odd size pieces needed to fill all the corners of the herringbone pattern.
Tools of the trade. Note the pencil marks where the pavers need to be cut.
Fitting the cut pavers around the front stoop.
Matt checking his work.
Every day there is another section of this job completed that leaves me filled with admiration for the hard work and craftsmanship Matt puts into his work.
Figuring out the necessary cuts to make the pavers fit around the irregular stone step and all the boulders lining the driveway.
Mark did the grunt work of bringing the pavers to the area where Matt was working. Each carrier holds 40 pounds of bricks.
The board lets you walk over the area that has been compacted and smoothed.
Mark put the pavers into groups that he presorted so Matt would have the full array of colors within reach. The dark cloth is the last layer that goes down before the bricks are placed.
Mark took the pavers off the big delivery palettes and set them on their sides where the colors are more obvious. It's important to scatter the dark and light tones evenly throughout the drive.
I walk out to see how far they got and how it all looks. By the end of the day Monday (7/27) they were getting down to the last section or two to be laid. Then there will be a lot of cutting to finish the job around all those boulders. I expect it is going to be a rather dusty week!
To follow the progress on this job, click on Driveway Project in the categories list.
For Foliage Follow-Up on May 16, I concentrated on individual plants with attractive foliage. But in terms of overall garden design it's all about plant combinations: Groupings of plants that contrast — or share —patterns, shapes, textures and color. These are a few of my current favorites.
Two early spring ground covers duke it out at the foot of a Honey Locust tree: Galium ordoratum (Sweet Woodruff) and Polygonatum humile (Dwarf Solomon's Seal).
Trillium sessile with Geranium phaeum 'Springtime'.
Sambucus nigra 'Black Lace' with Trillium sessile
Arum italicum 'Ghost' with Athyrium niponicum var. pictum
A threesome: More Japanese Painted Fern (as above) with Hosta 'Krossa Regal' and Carex siderostat 'Banana Boat'
Can you tell I love Painted Ferns? Here combined with Trillium sessile, Arum italicum, and the glorious Hosta 'Spritzer'
A river of Painted Ferns flow toward an ocean of Geranium x cantabrigiense 'Biokovo' under a Cercidiphyllum japonica 'Pendula' (Weeping Katsura tree). Off to the right are a Boxwood ball and Epimedium rubrum.
Rhus typhina 'Tiger Eyes' with Caulophyllum thalictroides (Blue Cohosh) which has tiny yellow flowers.
Though I am enjoying the abundance of spring blooms in the garden, my heart belongs to foliage. So I always look forward to this monthly meme hosted by Pam Penick at Digging.
This Thalictrum dioicum (early meadow rue, below) arrived from my neighbor's garden. I let it seed everywhere because the lacy foliage is a welcome addition on its own or in combination with other plants.
I grow dozens of ferns but none is more lovely than Adiantum pedatum (Maidenhair fern).
Tricyrtis hirta 'Golden Gleam' with Lilium martagon behind
Tricyrtis hirta 'Variegata'
The elegant Kirengeshoma koreana
Epimedium grandiflorum 'Dark Beauty' gets a second flush of dark leaves after flowering.