Posts tagged with "Buffalo":

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Fallen Angels Rescued Parametrically

Fabrikator

Classically trained sculptors breath new life into four 20-foot angels with the help of Rhino.

When Old Structures Engineering engaged Boston Valley Terra Cotta in the restoration of the 1896 vintage Beaux-Arts building at 150 Nassau Street in New York—one of the city’s original steel frame structures—the four decorative angelic figures, or seraphs, that adorned the corners of the uppermost story were in serious decay. “Up close, they were in an appalling state,” said Andrew Evans, engineering project manager. “The biggest issue we had with the angels was understanding what happened with the originals.” The seraphs were carved from stone by Spanish immigrant Ferdinand Miranda in 1895 and had suffered years of exposure and improper maintenance. By the time the facade was up for rehabilitation, the angels were haphazardly strapped to the building with steel bands and supported with bricks. Their state was such that repairs would not suffice and Boston Valley’s artisans began the task of recreating the 20-foot-tall Amazonian figures.
  • Fabricators Boston Valley Terra Cotta
  • Designer Ferdinand Miranda
  • Location Buffalo, New York
  • Date of Completion April 2013
  • Material glazed terra cotta, plywood
  • Process Rhino, Zbrush, Agisoft Photoscan, laser cutting, hand sculpting
It was the company’s first foray into parametric modeling. Like Dorothy stepping from sepia tone into Technicolor, the sculptors at Boston Valley Terra Cotta proclaimed, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” when they fabricated the 20-foot angels using parametric modeling and lasers. “I have a history in classical sculpture, so when this came in front of me, it was sink or swim,” said Mike Fritz, master sculptor at the Buffalo, New York–based ceramics company. “We went to Oz and everything changed after that.” Henceforth, the newly constructed terra cotta angels came to be known as “Dorothy.” The most decrepit angel was photographed onsite and then disassembled for shipment to Buffalo. In Boston Valley Terra Cotta’s ceramics studio, the images were converted with photogrammetry software and transferred to Rhino to build a digital model. The model was divided into sections, such as an arm, a face, several feathers of a wing, etc. Then a laser cutter was used to cut plywood profiles that matched each section.   “Those [plywood] profiles of her face or her arms were packed with clay to realize the full forms,” said Mitchell Bring, the project manager for Boston Valley Terra Cotta. Each of Dorothy’s parts were hand-finished by Boston Valley’s staff of 30 sculptors. Once the clay had set, negative molds were made of each section to form the parts for Dorothy’s identical sisters. The finished sections, each of which weighs upward of 500 pounds, were shipped back to 150 Nassau Street in pieces and assembled onsite with mortared joints. Since completing the project, the digitally enhanced sculpture methods have been refined and wholly embraced by Boston Valley’s team of artisans. “Through this work flow, we’re able to get a little closer to our material earlier in the process,” Fritz said. “If we went without the new tools, it would have been six weeks of work in total. But even with our substantial learning curve the modeling and the build on the shop floor only took two-and-a-half weeks total.”
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A Plus Design for Elevator B Hive

Fabrikator

The 22-foot Elevator B honeybee habitat was the winning proposal in a design competition sponsored by Rigidized Metals and the University at Buffalo.

The disquieting phenomenon of colony collapse disorder is seeing global bee populations vanish before our eyes, threatening the pollination of much of the world’s food crops. So when Buffalo, New York, metal fabricator Rigidized Metals discovered a colony of bees in an abandoned grain silo that its owner purchased, the company sponsored the Hive City competition. Students at the University at Buffalo (UB) were invited to design a viable bee habitat that would spark interest in the Silo City area and demonstrate the strengths of various building materials suppliers in Buffalo’s First Ward. As the first, permanent new construction on the Silo City site, Rigidized Metals wanted something that would be visible from nearby Ohio Street, stand out in the industrial landscape, and be reverent to neighboring silos. The winning design, known as Elevator B, is a 22-foot tower of 18-gauge sheet metal panels, with strategic perforations for natural ventilation, light, and heat management. An operable bee "cab" in the interior supports the actual hive on a pulley system, allowing beekeepers to access the colony and return it to a level that keeps the population safe from predators.
  • Fabricators Rigidized Metals, Courtney Creenan, Kyle Mastalinski, Daniel Nead, Scott Selin, Lisa Stern
  • Designers Courtney Creenan, Kyle Mastalinski, Daniel Nead, Scott Selin, Lisa Stern
  • Location Buffalo, New York
  • Date of Completion May 2012
  • Material plywood, steel, 18 gauge sheet metal, self-tapped screws, cypress, laminated glass
  • Process Grasshopper, sawing, welding, laser cutting
"We did lots of research on how bees build hives and colonies," said Courtney Creenan, a student at UB's School of Architecture and Planning, and one of the designers of Elevator B. "The structure also induces the motion of standing inside of and looking up through a grain silo, where you have no where to look but up." However, instead of a perfectly rounded oculus at the tower’s summit, Elevator B viewers see the outline of a honeycomb. The student design team mocked up the tower with plywood cutouts in UB's School of Architecture workshops and Rigidized Metals fabricated the panels, but the design was completed in Grasshopper. The software helped determine a workable pattern of perforations, particularly along the top of the elevator where winds could compromise stability. In the team’s initial design, all of the 70 metal panels received an 80 percent perforation, though each had a unique number of cuts in a unique array. Grasshopper brought out the commonalities from these disparate patterns, and allowed the team to scale back to six types of panels with maximum perforations of 60 percent. "You can barely see a difference," Creenan commented. Once the design was simplified in Grasshopper, the Elevator B team devised a matrix to deliver to Rigidized Metals that indicated the number of panels to be fabricated and which had to be folded around the corners of the tower's steel frame. To ensure accurate installation on-site, each panel was numbered. Since the grain silos are unoccupied most of the time, with the exception of special events and tours, the tower had to be vandal resistant. The students fastened the panels to the frame with self-tapping screws, which required no predrilling. The steel frame was hand-made and the panels were machine-formed, but Creenan said there was little error and the pieces came together easily onsite. Beekeeper Phillip Barr successfully relocated the bee colony in the spring of 2012 and it has survived its first Buffalo winter. With the warmer weather, the colony's member numbers are on the rise. And though Elevator B was designed specifically for bees, Creenan said that other animals have taken a shine to the tower. “Before [the bees] moved in we noticed robins had nested there," she said. Though the design team hasn't been approached about adapting its design for other animals throughout Buffalo's Olmsted-designed park system, Creenan likes the idea. "It'd be interesting to test this somewhere else in the city," she said.
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New York State Tearing Out Robert Moses State Parkway

Go Down, Moses, indeed. Highway-removal advocates were awarded a small victory this week as New York State announced it will be tearing out a two-mile expanse of the aptly-named Robert Moses State Parkway (aka the Niagara Falls expressway). The section to be removed runs along the main part of the river gorge and has long been a barrier to pedestrians seeking access to recreation areas. The Buffalo News reported that some sections of the roadway will be kept, but the long-term plan is to build a multi-use nature trail for sports such as hiking, biking, and cross country skiing. This will be the first time in half a century that residents and visitors will have access to nature trails without the inconvenience of crossing the parkway. There will be car access to the gorge by way of Whirlpool Street, which will be turned into a two-lane parkway. New York State Parks officials anticipate the entire process will take around three years and cost up to $50 million. According to the Buffalo News, “It would also constitute the largest expansion of Niagara parkland since the Niagara Reservation was created in the 1880s.”
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Students in Buffalo Reimagine the Structural Potential of Paper

For most architecture students, a model malfunction won't land you in the middle of a river, but one group of Buffalonian risk takers at the University of Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, under the direction of Associate Professor Jean La Marche were up for the challenge. Students Troy Barnes, Stephen Olson, Scott Selin, and Adrian Solecki designed and installed half of a bridge—made of cardboard—cantilevered over the Buffalo River, and invited people to step out over the water. The frightening experiment worked, challenging conventional notions of material constraints. The small structure was built from locally-produced cardboard tubes and is held up using rollers, pulleys, and ropes tied back to disused rails on the site. A supporting frame on a boat used to position the structure "lent the whole operation a nautical feel, fitting with the site," a spokesman for the team said in a statement. "With one of us on the raft, one manning the ropes, two were left to do the heavy work of pushing the cantilever out six inches at a time. After forty-five minutes, the structure dropped over the edge into place." The Buffalo Rising blog visited the installation, even venturing out onto the cardboard cantilever, and has more photos and observations.
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Quick Clicks> Sunlight Printing, Draper Train, Street Math, Rain Baskets

Solar sintering. Student work from the Royal College of Art exhibited at the London Design Festival explored the connections between energy and design. One student chose to examine the relationship between manufacturing and nature, creating a “Solar Sintering” machine that uses sunlight to power a 3D printing process. According to core77, the machine converts sand into a glass-like substance. "Draped" trains. Inspired by the decadence and glamour of early train travel, Carlton Varney, president of Dorothy Draper & Co., designed interiors for the Greenbrier Presidential Express cars. The train is slated to have its first run from Washington D.C. next July to Greenbrier, North Carolina, for guest of the Greenbrier Resort. More at Editor at Large. Street math. In an effort to freshen up their brand image, the DOW recently posted a “chalkboard” billboard displaying a mathematical equation on a building at the corner of Broome and Crosby streets in Manhattan. According to PSFK, the solution tells the story. Basketful of rain. An art installation along the Erie Canal Harbor Central Wharf in Buffalo, New York called Fluid Culture examines the impact of globalization on water. One piece in the exhibition, Rain Baskets, repurposed everyday items such as umbrellas, hoses, and rugs to create a rainwater harvesting system reported Buffalo Rising.
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Quick Clicks> High Speed Rail Rescued, Buffalo′s Rebirth, Metrocard’s Demise

High Speed Rail Rescued. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced $200 million for high speed rail projects in Michigan yesterday, as part of a $400 million package for high speed rail in the Midwest. The money came from funds rejected by Florida governor Rick Scott. Grist reports: "It looks like Scott's tantrum will mean improved speed and performance in the Northeast Corridor, a high-speed line between Detroit and Chicago, better train cars throughout California and the Midwest, and forward movement on the planned L.A.-to-S.F. high-speed line. Thanks, sucker!" Over the Hill. And speaking of rail, Grist brings us this infographic showing the dramatic decline of Amtrak's coverage since its heyday in the 60s. Maybe it's time to bring Joe Biden in for a celebrity ad campaign. Buffalo's Berkeley Makeover. Can Buffalo, New York become the next hip college town? That's what administrators at the University of Buffalo are betting on, staking $5 billion to expand the campus from the outskirts of the city to downtown. The city, which lost 1/10 of its population over the last decade, may not have Berkeley's hippie past, but business leaders and local politicians envision bringing thousands of professors and staffers downtown, with "young researchers living in restored lofts, dining at street-side bistros and walking to work." Metrocards Out, Smart Cards In. The country's oldest subway system foresees a future without the iconic Metrocard. The NY Daily News reports that the New York City MTA plans to replace Metrocards with smart cards in three to four years. Riders would tap the MTA Card, or a debit or credit card, to pay their fares.
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7 Cities Consider Removing Major Urban Highways

In a shift from America’s traditional 20th century landscape, more and more cities are now considering removing major highways in favor of housing, parks and economic development. The chief motivation seems to be money, according to a recent NPR report highlighting the growing movement and the removal of Cleveland’s West Shoreway. As highways age, keeping them around doesn’t justify the high cost of maintenance. But tearing these highways down also means new opportunities for developing valuable real estate and rehabilitating blighted land. The federal government awarded $16 million to replace a New Haven highway with pedestrian boulevards last fall, and other TIGER II funds to explore highway removal in the Bronx and New Orleans have also been issued. New Haven Mayor John DeStefano Jr. remarked, "We think this is a big f---ing deal." Decades after urban renewal programs first put up highways, most city planners now realize that highways drain vitality from healthy neighborhoods and lower property values. San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway and Central Freeway are two poster children for how highway removal can rejuvenate neighborhoods. The collapse of the Miller Highway in New York also made way for what’s now West Street and Hudson River Park.
BALTIMORE: Demolition of Baltimore’s infamous "Highway to Nowhere," a one mile stretch that ends in a grassy slope, began last fall. In 1974, construction sliced through a vibrant working class area of west Baltimore, demolishing 700 homes and displacing 2,000 residents, mostly African American. The area is now characterized by vacant homes and high poverty rates. President Obama’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act awarded $2.8 million for the highway’s removal, which will make room for transit-oriented development.

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CLEVELAND: The only way to get from downtown Cleveland to the waterfront is through poorly lit tunnels underneath the West Shoreway freeway. NPR recently highlighted the city's plan to convert the highway into an urban boulevard, in line with efforts to develop the waterfront, but opposition from suburban commuters forced the city to scale back the project. The original proposal would have added crosswalks to the road, parks, offices and housing, while the actual project will just focus on rebuilding the pedestrian tunnels.

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NEW ORLEANS: Decades before Hurricane Katrina and getting its own HBO series, Treme was one of the wealthiest African American communities in New Orleans, and Claiborne Avenue was its teeming commercial center. The construction of the Claiborne Expressway in the 1950s changed all that, displacing families and over 100 businesses. City planners are currently debating removing the highway as part of post-Katrina rebuilding. The plan would reclaim 35-40 city blocks from urban blight and 20-25 blocks of open space.

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SEATTLE: A battle is raging in Seattle over the demolition of the Alaskan Way Viaduct. The highway's coming down after sustaining damage in a 2001 earthquake, but the $4.2 billion tunnel slated to replace it by 2016 remains a political hot potato. The project is entangled in lawsuits, with critics seeking to vote on the project. Mayor McGinn came out against the Seattle’s political establishment in support of a street level replacement. He’s also pushing for removal of the Viaduct next year, citing the damage it would cause in an earthquake.

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NEW HAVEN: The city recently received a $16 million TIGER II grant to convert part of Route 34 into an urban boulevard. Residents envision a re-do with narrow car lanes, wide sidewalks and a bike lane. The plan will add 960 permanent jobs and reclaim 11 acres of land that can be developed and taxed. It will finally unite the city's central business district with the rest of New Haven, ending the highway's stifling effect on economic development. Built in 1959, the highway displaced 600 families and 65 businesses and was never completed.

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BUFFALO: After several multi-million dollar projects failed to slow Buffalo's decline, planners set their sights on removing two of the city's major highways. The Skyway and Route 5 make commutes more difficult, cost millions in annual maintenance and block waterfront development. The state Department of Transportation decided to keep the elevated roadways in 2008, even though local officials and residents wanted a street level boulevard. A coalition of citizens and civic organizations appealed the decision in 2008, and continue to advocate demolition.

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LOUISVILLE: In the opening scenes of Elizabethtown, Kirsten Dunst maps out Interstate 64 in Louisville for Orlando Bloom because "the roads around there are hopelessly and gloriously confusing." He gets lost anyway, banging his hands against his steering wheel and yelling "60B!" The Ohio River Bridges Project, a $4.2 billion plan to expand the highway to 23 lanes of traffic at its widest point, would make things even more challenging. In 2005, two Louisville businessmen launched a grassroots campaign to remove the highway and develop the waterfront with a pedestrian-friendly boulevard. But it looks like the project's continuing with wider elevated lanes of traffic with some cost cut adjustments made in recent days.

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The Art of Abandonment

Buffalo-based architect Dennis Maher has devised his own version of adaptive reuse - he's remaking abandoned buildings into sculptures. Inspired by the shrinking Rust Belt city where he lives and works, his sculptures "honor the former lives of these raw materials" in a way that is striking and thought-provoking. The large works of art in Undone-Redone City are complex, and offer us a new way of seeing buildings, or at least their elements. In Maher's creations, a door and some flooring and a window frame might all mesh together to form a new shape and a new function that the original builders probably never imagined.
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Starchitecture: The Next Generation

Between Frank Lloyd Wright’s private homes, Louis Sullivan’s original skyscraper, and Henry Hobson Richardson’s asylum, Buffalo, New York has more famous and historically important architecture than most cities in the country.  Now Buffalo is working hard to churn out its own starchitects—starting in high school.  The new Architecture and Design Academy at the International Preparatory School at Grover celebrated its grand opening this week on Buffalo’s west side. The public school’s Discover Design Program, which commenced in the fall with 20 ninth-graders, aims to “engender architecture and design literacy and academic excellence through rigorous curriculum in an effort to prepare students for higher education.”  The Discover Design students will receive a basic liberal arts education and practice in the graphic arts, as well as opportunities for mentoring, internships and summer programs with several architecture groups.  Looks like we know where Cooper Union’s class of 2018 is right now.
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Buffalo Unbuilt as Entropic Urban Art Project

With some 10,000 buildings languishing on the official demolition list, Buffalo is a landscape in the losing—a city coming to grips, like others in the Rust Belt, with the postindustrial present and its architectural aftermath. As part of that collective quest, the city’s detritus is now improbably on view in a pair of exhibitions that consider the fate of shrinking cities, thanks to artist and architect Dennis Maher and his ongoing project Undone-Redone City, an extended meditation on urban fabric in an entropic state of flux. Maher’s interest in the demolition and reassemblage of urban places became an occupational hazard of sorts after he landed in Buffalo in 2002 and found himself working on wrecking crews to pay the bills. The experience gave him a keen appreciation for what he calls “ecologies of decay”—the strange processes of dereliction and succession that have long been familiar to residents of Detroit. Working out of makeshift studios in vacant buildings around the city, Maher began assembling its remnants into installations that spoke to the power of urban fragments, yet also to their potential—reconstituted scraps and shards of a place that’s disappearing by the Dumpster-ful. The result is currently on view at Buffalo’s Burchfield Penney Art Center as part of the sprawling Beyond/In Western New York biennial. Here, Maher’s Animate Lost/Found Matter (001-) is a suspended mash-up of architectural innards—boards and battens, crunched metal, TV aerials, filigrees of marquetry and siding. Drawn from demolition sites and salvage yards, what the artist calls “aggregate environments of urban waste” are part sculpture, part urban archaeology, part archive, and part protest. Indeed Maher, who studied at Cornell and teaches architecture at SUNY’s University at Buffalo, sees his artistic enterprise as a combination of architecture and activism that can help heal cities reeling from the atomizing impact of demolition. You can find his latest project at Brooklyn’s Black & White Gallery/Project Space, where Maher was an artist-in-residence last summer. His show of photographic works, Neglect of Finish, recently closed, but the site-specific installation End Wall is on exhibit through November 21 (the artist’s reception is this Friday at 6 p.m.). A fugue-like construction of demolition debris, found objects, and house paint, the work captures the ungainly, even ungodly nature of a city left for dead. In these works Maher has mounded up the tailings of an urban extraction process of unprecedented proportion. This is what’s left after the old industrial city has been chewed up and spat out by an inhuman economic imperative. With these modest materials and means, Maher summons a collective spirit from a senseless city of bits.