BUFFALO, NY- Love them or hate them, Buffalo's grain elevators are an important part of the city's industrial history. If you drove down the Skyway Tuesday night, you may have noticed one of them has become a work of art.
WEB EXTRA: Photo gallery of the light test at the Grain Silos
"This is just a great platform and a perfect canvas to display some art," said Erie Canal Harbor Corporation Chairman, Tom Dee. "From a preservationist's standpoint from a historian's standpoint we're going to be able to tell the story of Buffalo."
With the help of dozens of theatrical LED lights and several large projectors, a design team displayed 30 different schemes on the behemoth building from 7 p.m. to midnight. There were projections of historic video, underwater life, and even the Sabres logo. The program's designer said the grain elevator's deterioration added the art. It didn't detracting from it.
"As you can see there's all sorts of texture on the building right now so it's really playing well with the video projection we're using and the lighting as well," said Martin Gagnon of Ambiances Design Productions.
The lighting display was a test to see the potential for Buffalo's grain elevators. The Image Mill in Quebec City is being used as a model. The semi-permanent installation attracts as many as 300,000 visitors each summer.
Still, some Western New Yorkers might be saying the lights are just masking the problem and the grain elevators need to come down.
"I would say come tonight. Come tonight and see what happens. You're just going to be blown away, it's really going to be cool," said Dee.
It's all happening near Gallagher Beach and the small boat harbor, part of 400 acres of NFTA property on the outer harbor that the Erie Canal Harbor Development Corporation is interested in buying. The city of Buffalo has also expressed interest in the property.
This, combined with the development of canals and a future museum on the Aud Block, the Donovan Building renovation, and the Sabres plan for the Webster Block, the progress on Buffalo's Waterfront cannot be ignored.
"This is just going to be another step, and we're going to show Buffalo and the state of New York that things are great and things are moving," Dee said.
Lights breathing life into a dilapidated grain elevator- a symbol that anything is possible at Buffalo's transforming waterfront.
"We have a lot of things we've already accomplished and a lot more to do," said Dee.
It's possible the 15 other grain elevators could be included in the future, however they all have private owners that need to agree. The next step is the architects and the production team will present a master lighting plan to the ECHDC. Then it will review it and make a decision by the end of the year.