F.N. Burt Box Factory – 500 Seneca Street, Buffalo, NY



The F.N. Burt box factory, once a local landmark which is listed on the United States Register of Historic Places, was recently an abandoned historic building. The architects and developers wanted to preserve this piece of history, while simultaneously providing modern building standards and amenities.

Located in Buffalo’s emerging Hydraulics District, the renovated factory has been transformed into a vibrant community asset combining 106 living units, 180,000 square feet of commercial office space on five floors, exciting retail components, a unique cultural space and a large multi-story interior green atrium area as well as a rooftop garden.



The most anticipated space to be completed in the building was the (former) exterior courtyard on the 3rd floor, which over time became fully-enclosed and used as a three-story interior atrium. The atrium was initially very dark and uninviting, because it was surrounded on three sides by large daylight factory windows that faced only adjacent interior spaces.

The challenge was to energize this 5,756 square foot Atrium and create an active communal space with plenty of natural light, while keeping the project on schedule and within budget.



Architects decided to provide an abundance of natural light to the atrium and selected the VELUX Modular Skylight (VMS) system for its aesthetics and ease of installation.

Approximately 3,314 square feet of new openings were cut out of the existing 5-Bay precast concrete roof deck to accommodate the integration of five large VMS Ridgelights: three approximately 48 feet long - each with 28 modular glazing units, and two approximately 36 feet long with 22 modular glazing units. High efficiency glazing was utilized to accommodate New York State’s temperature extremes and achieve a .24 solar heat gain coefficient, making the space below very energy efficient.

A mixture of 128 fixed and venting skylight modules cover the atrium ceiling providing daylight and ventilation to those below. Eight-foot tall skylight modules line the center Ridgelights. The nearly 3.5 foot wide modules allow for quick coverage of such large roof openings. With glass insulated units nearly 1.5 inches thick, it was easy to see how VELUX could achieve a .24 solar heat gain coefficient and help make the space below very energy efficient.

“We chose the VMS skylight system because of its truly minimalistic design characteristics,” said CJS Architects. “It offered simple, classic and elegant features which were capable of complementing our existing building’s characteristics.”

Because of its “plug and play” design, the VMS system could be installed quickly and integrate easily into the historic building.

There were many features of the VELUX skylights that appealed to the project team: the flexibility of sizing, ease of installation and the look of the units,” said Samuel Savarino. “Fidelity to the project schedule was an important component. VELUX met every criterion.”

The skylight installation includes numerous venting skylight modules that can easily be integrated into the building’s HVAC for automatic climate control for an accelerated return on investment by reducing overall building HVAC loads. The system also includes rain/heavy wind sensor override functionality.