What did it take to save 600 historical windows at the Richardson Olmsted Complex?
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The Connector:
600 windows down, 1600 to go!

Photo by Joe Cascio
Photos courtesy of @RichardsonCtr Instagram followers @bini01, @deibel, @flynnbattagliaarchitects, and @neweramike.
The Richardson Olmsted Complex is famous for its iconic two towers, but take a closer look – the 140-year-old National Historic Landmark also features thousands of windows.

The windows at the Complex have been there since the site’s original construction in the late 1800s. They are all made of original plate glass and old growth hardwood.

When rehabilitation of the center three buildings began in 2014, many of the windows were broken, all were dirty, and some were boarded up. The Richardson Center Corporation was faced with the decision of replacing or restoring the original windows.
Glass panes from the Richardson's original windows would need to be
seriously cleaned if they were restored.
See an untouched window pane at left and a shiny, cleaned pane at right above.
Historical windows are high quality and meant to last – the ones at the Richardson Olmsted Complex lasted 140 years thanks to old-growth hardwood that is denser than wood used in windows today. If new windows were installed at the Complex, they would likely need to be replaced again in just 20 years. And a Preservation GreenLab study found that retrofitting old windows in historic buildings is actually more energy efficient and cost effective than buying all new ones. Restoring the old windows to last another 140 years (or more!) was a no-brainer.
The Richardson Olmsted Complex windows arrive in Kansas City to be restored.
Over 6 weeks in 2014, the 600 windows in the three first buildings to be rehabbed were individually cataloged, numbered, and assessed. While local window restoration company, Jens Glass, worked under Allstate General Contracting to rehab the windows in one of the buildings, the windows in the Towers Building and the first building to the east were too badly damaged to fix on-site. These windows were shipped to Kansas City, where the nationally-renowned window restoration company ReView brought them back to life.
Photo Courtesy of Matt Kenny
Today, the 600 windows are back and gleaming, enjoying their second century at the Richardson Olmsted Complex.
It ended up taking $7 million to save these original windows – this number sounds daunting until you consider the savings from reusing the windows another 140 years. A replacement window customized for each of the 600 unique openings at the Complex is estimated to cost $1,000 and would need to be replaced every 20 years – the overall cost would be $12 million! And that doesn't account for the cost of energy wasted to produce the new windows or dispose of old windows.
The cost of restoring these beautiful windows is just a small part of the effort and funds required to save the whole Complex. Donate today to help continue rehabilitating one of Buffalo’s greatest architectural treasures – there are over 1,600 windows that still need our help!

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Your support is absolutely critical to the future of this magnificent National Historic Landmark.

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