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From Bombs to Boardrooms: An Armory’s Second Lease on Life


If you’ve driven down Culver Road lately, you’d of had a difficult time missing all of the activity around the old Culver Road Armory. The imposing WWI-era structure, which sits directly across from beautiful Cobbs Hill Park, has been undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation over the last several months after being purchased by Fred Rainaldi of the Rochester-based Rainaldi Brothers in 2009. Rainaldi’s plan? To create a modern, designer quality office complex that’s everything you don’t think of when you think of an old armory.

Whitney Baird Associates, who broke ground on the project early in the year, are planning several minor improvements to the building including hazardous material abatement, a full tear out and installation of all mechanical systems, parking for 500 cars, and a new roof over the 100,000 square foot structure. Oh….and a 20,000 square foot addition. And a full second floor. Anyway…

The Culver Road Armory as it appeared before construction, and in a rendering from Whitney Baird
Culver Road Armory Culver Road Armory Rendering

Whitney Baird’s plan is to turn the newly renovated structure into an ultra-modern office facility with the feel of a contemporary art museum (Click Here to visit the project website). Several tenants have already signed on including Engineering firm Erdman Anthony and Rochester law firm Boylan, Brown, Code, Vigdor & Wilson LLP. The project is currently on schedule, so the new tenants will be able to move into Rochester’s answer to New York’s MOMA in September.

The result will undoubtedly be amazing when they’re finished, but I would imagine it seemed impossible when they first walked into that old armory.

But I bet it didn’t look this impossible.

As it turns out, Culver Road isn’t the only vintage armory in upstate New York that’s undergoing a facelift. In Cold Springs, NY, the Bannerman’s Island Arsenal has been getting some much needed attention as well—but rather than being converted into top-shelf office space, the plan is intended to keep the historic structure from falling down.

Bannerman's Armory 1
Photo by Dave Sanders for the New York Times

Gutted by fire before being abandoned, the haunting, castle-like structure has been decaying on its perch overlooking the Hudson River since 1969. Recently, however, workers have been busy stabilizing many of the Arsenal’s dilapidated structures in an effort to save the historic complex from ruin (Click Here to see story in the New York Times).

Bannerman's Armory 2 Bannerman's Armory 2.5Photo by Dave Sanders for the New York Times

Now owned by the State, the $350,000 stabilization project has been funded by EPA grants in combination with state and private foundation contributions.

Bannerman's Armory 3 BPhoto by Dave Sanders for the New York Times

The plan for the incredible 18th century building? “Not rubble” is about as far as they’ve gotten thus far, but stay tuned—while it probably isn’t an appropriate candidate for modern art office space, the views are breathtaking, and its proximity to New York City make it a castle work saving.

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One Response to “From Bombs to Boardrooms: An Armory’s Second Lease on Life”
  1. Marty Launer says:

    Thank you for the great updates, especially the Hudson River Castle. I grew up 40 miles above this and became very fond of Garrison and Cold Springs area as Lauren and I spent many happy moments from the mid 60′s to the 80′s with her grandparents in Garrison and we were married in Garrison in 1969.

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