If you didn’t already know I have severe OCD, this post is surely going to tip my hand. But here goes.
I LOVE Kodak. I own 3 Kodak cameras (one on me at all times) and countless “Kodak moments” hanging on my walls. In fact the very first thing my children saw after the nurses wiped the goop out of their eyes was—you guessed it—a Kodak camera. But there’s one itty bitty thing that bugs me about Kodak… their 19 story office tower. It looks like it was blown up and patched back together with superglue (which by the way was invented by a Kodak chemist).
I pass by Kodak tower everyday on my to and from work; and everyday I cringe a little bit. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s a gorgeous building with great bones. I just think it needs the 1970’s dusted off. And by George, with a little Photoshop magic I’m going give it my best shot. First a bit of history…
At 19 stories Kodak Tower is currently the 4th tallest building in Rochester NY. Built in 1912 on the site of the original factory, to this day it serves as the world headquarters for Eastman Kodak.
What most people don’t realize is it was originally constructed (left) with only 16 stories and a flat roof! At the time it was Rochester’s tallest building. However, it lost this status in the 1920s following the addition of a 42 foot sculpture on top of the Genesee Valley Trust (Times Square) building. Not to be outdone, George Eastman ordered the addition of the 17th-19th stories and a tower on the roof. Below is an artist’s rendering of what the building would look like after the addition…
In 1930 the tower achieved the current height of 360 feet, re-obtaining the status of Rochester’s tallest building. On a sunny day if you look closely you can see the color change in the exterior masonry (above the 16th floor).
And here’s how the building looked after the addition (left). I’m thinking this photo (below) is from the mid 1950’s although I’m not sure of the exact year. Anyway it’s been downhill ever since. The smaller building in front of the tower, designed around 1899 by renowned local architect J. Foster Warner, was razed in the 1950s.
Today the tower is virtually encased in bulky-looking 1950/60’s additions. There’s not much we can do about those other structures, so my focus is on the tower itself. Its original pane glass windows are long gone and have been replaced somewhere along the way with single panes that don’t quite fit the openings leaving awkward beige panels to fill the gap above each window. The metal roof, though durable and rugged, is a patchwork of different colors and griminess. The cupola for some reason has been painted the same shade of gray as the grimy roof. And the giant metal KODAK sign could use some straightening out.
Now, recently the building was fully encased in scaffolding. And I thought, “FINALLY! The Kodak gods have heard my cries!” But then the scaffolding came down. The facade was cleaned and a pedestrian bridge was removed… But why stop there? I was baffled!
So now I’m taking my plea to the blogosphere, where I am CERTAIN Mr. Eastman is listening. And with the help of Photoshop (which I’m getting pretty darn good at if I do say so) I’m hoping the right people see this post and get inspired.
Kodak Tower is one of Rochester’s crown jewels. It deserves the spa treatment. Now, drumroll, MOVE THAT BUS!
Kodak Tower AFTER MAKEOVER: with new period-correct windows, a fresh patina paint job on the roof, and some clean up applied to the KODAK sign and cupola. Of course, the Falcon’s nest might have to be relocated during the work, but only temporarily.
I know I know, renovations like this cost money. But surely I’m not the only one who’s had these thoughts, am I? If we can find $4 million to build the addition to Eastman Theatre, I think we can find money for paint and new windows.
Tags: Eastman Kodak, Genesee Valley Trust, George Eastman, J. Foster Warner, Kodak, Kodak Tower, Photoshop, Times Square Building, vintage postcard, vintage views
This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 12th, 2011 at 11:04 pm and is filed under Opinion, Rochester Images. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
You madman!!! You’re trying to play god!
But to be completely serious, I did not know the building was originally shorter with a flat roof. I also had never seen the original surrounding building. It certainly puts the work in a sensible urban context. As always when I see the quality of what used to be, I am sad now.