HSBC Bank’s logos have come off the top of the downtown tower, but they are in good hands.
Fred Laurich was part of the crew that fastened the signs high above the city in 1994. Over the past few days, he helped take them down, as the bank moves out of the 38-story landmark, and One HSBC Center prepares for a new name.
“I told my wife, ‘What a fitting way to finish it,’ ” said Laurich, 54, an employee of Raymond E. Kelley Inc., an exterior masonry restoration and maintenance company. “It’s like the end of an era.”
HSBC’s lease is up, and it is exiting the tower as part of broader changes to its local operations. It sold its upstate retail banking network and is moving its employees into the nearby HSBC Atrium building and another facility in Depew.
Monday, Laurich and Tom Robinson stood on a movable platform as they removed the last of the four red-and-white bow tie-like logos at the top of the building, on the south side facing the First Niagara Center. Something resembling a hexagon-shaped shadow remains where the signs once hung.
The logos were anchored to the building with stainless-steel bolts. The signs were repainted over the years to keep them looking bright after exposure to the sun and so many Buffalo winters.
Removing the signs took just over one day for each, Laurich said. Once the bolts were taken out, the holes were filled in with caulk.
The giant logos actually consist of 24 aluminum panels. “They’re put together like a puzzle,” Laurich said.
The largest of the panels measures about 10 feet wide and five feet high. They are heavy: Some weigh as much as 125 pounds. Piece by piece, the signs are removed and hoisted to the roof, and will leave the building through a freight elevator. HSBC is putting the panels into storage until it decides what to do with them.
Laurich lives in Strykersville and is a member of Local 3, Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. He has been with R.E. Kelley for 34 years and comes to One HSBC Center frequently for assignments. Laurich and two co-workers – both of whom have since retired – were photographed by The Buffalo News putting up the HSBC signs 19 years ago.
Laurich has also worked on notable area buildings, including the Liberty Building downtown and Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawanna. “He loves his job,” said his wife, Cindy. “It’s different every day.”
To Laurich, the HSBC tower stands out for its “height, the prestige of it, the way it’s designed.”
Much has changed in the neighborhood since Laurich put up the HSBC signs in 1994. Memorial Auditorium closed and was torn down, and a new arena opened down the street. Two projects, HarborCenter and One Canalside, are rising far below his platform. Meanwhile, One HSBC Center – soon to be renamed One Seneca Tower – needs a new use as HSBC and Phillips Lytle move to other locations.
Laurich’s current job gives him an unrivaled view of the city and its surroundings, not to mention at a height that would make most people queasy. For Laurich, it is just another day at – make that outside of – the office.
“I love it,” he said. “Nobody bothers you out here. This is like a moving patio.”