“City Shapers: HHL Architects at FLW’s Martin House”

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Each Monday in our City Shapers segment, we highlight someone — or a group of people — doing something to make Western New York a better place.

This week, 2 On Your Side’s Kelly Dudzik is shining a spotlight on the architects behind the restoration of the Darwin Martin House.

Mary Roberts knows the Darwin Martin House inside-out.

“The art glass windows could open and close to control the amount of heat that flowed into the spaces,” Roberts explained.

Over the past twenty years, she’s given hundreds, if not thousands, of tours. Nearly 30-thousand tourists come through these doors each year. June marks the 150th anniversary of architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s birth and will launch a year-long celebration.

“The buzz is building, there’s no doubt about it, and we’re ready for it,” she says.

Recently, the Architectural Record magazine highlighted the massive renovation project at the Martin House done by Buffalo-based HHL Architects.

“We did it as sincere, a dedication to what was done originally, so when people recognize that and recognize that effort, especially as a small, local firm, to get national and international recognition, it’s a good thing to hear,” says architect Matthew Meier.

Meier and Jamie Robideau are both native Western New Yorkers. Their firm has been involved in the restoration since 1992.

“A significant part of the project involved reconstructing what was demolished over the years. And, you know, we didn’t have precise drawings of everything,” says Meier.

“When you think of the brick and the roof tile and the plaster work, these things aren’t made anymore, so it was in some cases it took years of investigation and sleuthing around,” says Robideau.

But after years of hard work, searching for the right materials, and interpreting what Wright’s intentions were, Matthew and Jamie have a lot to be proud of.

“Sometimes you look at things like a light fixture or a molding detail and every time you walk by it, you look at it and you go, that’s the coolest thing in the world and I had a role in that,” says Meier.

As they near the completion of the project, Matthew and Jamie have also seen a renewed interest in Buffalo and its rich architectural history, which is all part of Buffalo’s renaissance.

“I really like the fact that everybody’s so passionate about Buffalo and they want to have their hands in it, and they want to own it, and they want to see it succeed, and I think that’s good for us. I think that’s a good sign,” says Meier.

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