The featured Eye Candy for this week is the BWL Forbes Substation on the corner of Forbes Street and Verlinden Avenue. Substations like this one convert high voltage electricity into low voltage electricity for homes and businesses. You have probably seen the more common substation look: a mess of gray boxes and wires surrounded by a chain-link fence. Few electrical substations are this beautifully concealed.
The canvas starts with a brick rectangle. Three horizontal limestone bars keep the building grounded, and limestone details are used sparingly throughout the façade to give the brick some life. The giant stained-glass windows are the most prominent feature, their arches contrasting the straight lines and sharp corners of the building. The top layer of brickwork leaves spaces open, possibly for ventilation. This is a creative design choice: Instead of plain, square openings, the masons were able to create a pattern of diamond-shaped openings while maintaining structural integrity.
The building is topped off by what appears to be a Spanish-style concrete tile roof with some hefty overhangs. This was likely not the cheapest roofing option, but whatever was paid, it was worth it. The roof has held up nicely, and its color and texture are a wonderful addition to the structure.
The metal framework of the windows has begun to rust, and the colorful stained glass has dulled, yet thanks to good construction and thoughtful design, the building’s character has only improved over time.
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