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Mar 19, 2024

Our Office is a Landmark

Written by Devon Dams-O'Connor | Associate Art Director

FourthIdea’s headquarters are located at 535 Washington Street. But most locals know that address as the iconic Electric Tower, one of the most recognizable buildings in the Buffalo city skyline.

An Illuminated History

The Electric Tower was built during Buffalo’s heyday in 1912 as the headquarters of General Electric. It was
inspired by the Electric Tower at the 1901 Pan-American Exhibition hosted in Buffalo, an event-specific structure that served as a soaring focal point of a historic event. Nearly eight million people from around the world flocked to the five-month-long event to see spectacles of artistry and ingenuity, including fairground streets lined with electric lights. This proud demonstration solidified Buffalo’s post as pioneers of electricity as it became one of the first cities to light streets and homes with power generated by newly developed hydroelectric power plants at Niagara Falls (now one of our destination clients). It would’ve been the first time most Pan Am visitors would’ve seen electric lights, ever. The tower, along with all the 1901 World’s Fair structures except one, were torn down at the close of the event.

When the permanent Electric Tower was completed at its present day location just as automobiles appeared

on Buffalo’s streets, it was the first building in the world to use electric lights for architectural effect. The white, glazed terra cotta facade made a brilliant blank canvas for illumination that seemed to make the whole skyscraper glow at night. Nowadays, spotlights illuminating the top layers change colors throughout the year to mark special occasions, like blue and red for Independence Day or the Buffalo Bills, green for St. Paddy’s Day, and pink for breast cancer awareness.


Our Slice of the Cake

FourthIdea moved into the tower in 2021. We’re just below the layer cake part of the building on the 14th floor. The open-concept office is a circular space surrounded by soaring windows that offer a 360-degree panorama of downtown Buffalo featuring the golden dome of the M&T building below, the waters of Lake Erie, and the sprawling radial street pattern leading away from the city center with views for miles on clear days. Fun fact: while being up this high makes for fantastic views, it also means we get to experience the entire building swaying when high winds whip off the lake and send our hanging lights swinging.


Secret Stashes

Like gathering spaces in many cool old buildings, our conference room has character that new builds don’t bother with anymore, like a beautiful fireplace and mantle (no fires allowed) and turn-of-the-century wooden wainscoting that wraps around the room to give it a stately feel. There’s a hidden door in one panel that opens to reveal our well-stocked liquor cabinet, but you’ll have to come by for happy hour to see this secret feature.

‘New Years Ground Zero

This space is particularly special on New Year’s Eve. The city of Buffalo’s official celebrations fill the streets surrounding the tower with celebratory crowds, music, street vendors and parties. It’s the second oldest New Years Eve countdown event in the U.S. behind Times Square, and we are at the epicenter. Before the countdown to midnight, the illuminated orb used for the ball drop hangs right outside of our conference room windows, an up-close view only those invited to the agency’s legendary New Year’s Eve party ever get to see. When the calendar flips to the new year, fireworks exploding over the tower bathe the white walls in light of every color.

A Promising Future

This building is a historic landmark. It’s a testament to the resurgence the city has seen over the past two

decades, as forgotten historic structures become thriving hubs of activity with investment—by both locals and out-of-towners—breathing welcome new life into this rust-belt queen city of the Great Lakes. For us, this space is a physical representation of the way we tend to think about the destination clients we work with: celebrate the storied past of a place, carry forward the features that make it special, and take a 360-degree view of what opportunities lie on the horizon to make sure people far and wide can see and recognize a specific location.


Stop by our office if you’re in town! You can’t miss it.

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