Travel Guide

Buffalo, New York


Architecture: Prudential Building

The Prudential Building (formerly the Guaranty Building) is located at the corner of Pearl and Church Streets in Buffalo’s downtown area. Constructed in 1896, the 13-story Prudential Building was designed by Louis Sullivan and Dankmar Adler, who were renowned architects during the period. The design of the building is based on Sullivan’s architectural concept that "form follows function".
Prudential Building, Buffalo (New York State)

Prudential Building in Buffalo by Sunghwan Yoon

Sullivan and Adler composed the design of the building into four zones, which was to form the basic architecture of many office buildings seen today.
  • First zone – This was the basement, where the mechanical systems were relegated including motors for the elevators, boilers, and electrical dynamos.
  • Second zone – This was the ground floor and was the public area facing Church and Pearl Street and included the public entrances and lobbies.
  • Third zone – This included the office floors with identical office cells clustered around the central elevator shafts.
  • Terminating zone – This was the final zone consisting of elevator equipments, utilities, and a few offices.
Prudential Building facade, Buffalo (New York State)

The building's facade by JasonParis

The supporting steel structure of the building is embellished with different styles of terra cotta blocks, delineating the three visible zones of the Prudential Building. A noticeable feature of the building’s facade is the ornamentation, designed in simple but detailed geometric forms and symbols. The ornamentation and style of the design are trademarks of Sullivan’s architectural style. The building is essentially a U-shaped plan stacked upon a rectangular solid. The interstitial spaces between wings of the “U” allow sunlight to pass through to the lobby and cover the ceiling with stain glass.

Location: 28 Church Street, Buffalo, NY 14202, 

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