Fountains pass first test as East Canal park takes shape - The Buffalo News

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Fountains pass first test as East Canal park takes shape

The city’s newest fountain at the nearly completed East Canal passed its first test Wednesday, as lawyers, paralegals, secretaries and other staff of Phillips Lytle LLP get ready for their biggest motion in decades today – the movement of the firm itself.

The six jets gushed water out of six brass nozzles into a shallow pool of water measuring 50 feet wide by about 75 feet. The fountain is located by a granite plaza with trees and narrow, exposed channels that recirculate water to the fountain.

“I think it’s going to be a fabulous public park. This area has been so long in coming, and I’m really happy to be a part of this,” said Kevin Campbell, superintendent for Mark Cerrone, the general site contractor, after wading through the water in thigh-high rubber boots.

“They’re depicting the canal and what was here, and they’re trying to bring it back, and to me this is like the headwaters,” before the canals continue on the former Memorial Auditorium block now under construction, he said.

Work that remains to be completed includes wiring the pool’s multicolored lights, completing landscaping and lighting around the trees, putting down cobblestone and laying sandstone on the upper plaza outside what will be the main entrance for a Courtyard by Marriott hotel.

Tom Dee, president of Erie Canal Harbor Development Corp., which funds the $5.7 million project, said the work is expected to be finished by the end of the month, with more testing on the fountain to continue.

“The whole design was made to look and feel like it’s a small brook feeding water down to the main pool. Then these jets, an aesthetic water feature, are bouncing the water up into the air and letting it cascade back into the pool. It’s a cool architectural look,” Dee said.

Tom Hanson, vice president of Roman Fountains, the Albuquerque-based manufacturer, said the 4-inch nozzles can generate 671 gallons of arcing water per minute.

“That’s a lot. I haven’t sold that large of a nozzle for six to eight years. They’re very rare because of the cost, and the size of the pump it takes to shoot that much water. Most people don’t have a big enough basin of water to handle something like that,” Hanson said.

“It’s a great front door to One Canalside, a great eastern entrance to Canalside, a great public space that’s going to flow from Washington Street to Main Street right down to Marine Drive, so I like the flow and continuity,” Dee said.

Meanwhile, starting at 4 p.m. today, Phillips Lytle LLP, the city’s second-largest law firm, will start packing up its offices at One Seneca Tower – formerly One HSBC Center – for the relocation to One Canalside a block away.

The law firm, which was the second-biggest tenant in the tower, will be the only office tenant in the building, occupying the top four floors of the former Donovan State Office Building. The lower floors, which won’t be finished until the spring, will be occupied by the hotel.

The law firm’s move is slated to be completed over the weekend, so that it can reopen on Monday in its new home. That means moving more than 110 attorneys and 200 staff, plus books, files, furniture and equipment in just over three days.

After the move, the firm will have a completely new headquarters, in custom-designed space on significantly larger floors than the tower offered, with new furniture, conference rooms and state-of-the-art technology, such as video-conferencing. The only entrance for the law firm, at least for now, is on the Main Street side.

Phillips Lytle had occupied the tower since it was built in 1972.

“We’re moving into more efficient space,” said Managing Partner David McNamara. “Because of the configuration of the floor plates and the ability to deal with a blank slate, we’re able to get more usable, productive square footage and more offices, in relatively the same overall square footage.”

The annual waterfront holiday celebration will be held at the East Canal on Dec. 20. The pool will be drained of water, and a Christmas tree and holiday landscaping will be featured, along with music and programming inside heated tents, food trucks and a visit from Santa.

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