Frank Lloyd Wright's Martin House Complex Receives $2.5 Million Gift for New Visitor Center

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The Martin House Restoration Corporation, which operates the landmark Darwin D. Martin House Complex in Buffalo, New York, has announced a $2.5 million gift for its new, Toshiko Mori-designed visitor center pavilion. The visitor center will serve as the entryway and orientation site to one of the greatest buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Martin House Visitor Center Pavilion

Our goal is to restate the importance of Wright's place in setting the tone for today's architecture

The Martin House Restoration Corporation (MHRC), which operates Frank Lloyd Wright's landmark Darwin Martin House Complex has announced a $2.5 million gift for its new, Toshiko Mori-designed visitor center pavilion. Wright's largest Prairie Style complex (32,000 square feet) is currently undergoing a $40 million restoration to return it to its original 1907 condition. The gift from the East Hill Foundation enables the MHRC to begin construction on the visitor center in late February with completion anticipated in late 2008.

Toshiko Mori, chair of the Department of Architecture at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, has received numerous awards for her work, including the Academy Award in Architecture from the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Mori's design gracefully complements the revival of the historic Frank Lloyd Wright complex, employing Wright's architectural philosophies in a 21st-century iteration of his organic principles. The transparent, glass-walled pavilion visually connects the landscape with its interior, and its proportions and geometries--such as the dramatically cantilevered roof--echo Wright's Martin House design. The 6,000-square-foot building will serve as the entryway for visitors and will house exhibits featuring architectural drawings and archival photographs of the Martin House.

"Our goal is to restate the importance of Wright's place in setting the tone for today's architecture," Mori stated. 'Current ecological concerns are focusing us once again to reconsider the true meaning of organic architecture; that is architecture that is integral and intrinsic, that embraces technological advances that will work with natural forces, and that has poetic intentions to lift the human spirit.'

The MHRC will name the visitor center The Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion, in honor of its patrons, whose family founded the East Hill Foundation. Buffalo-born Wilson Greatbatch developed the first implantable cardiac pacemaker in the late 1950s, and in recent years has focused on developing alternative energy solutions.

Buffalo's citizens, foundations, and the state and local government continue to invest in the city's rich art and architectural heritage, with projects focused on preserving these treasures--and building new facilities--to sustain them well into the future.

The Burchfield-Penney Art Center's new 75,000-square-foot home designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates will open to the public in Fall 2008. The new, LEED-certified building is an elegant structure of interlocking forms and an innovative combination of materials, surrounded by a series of gardens and walkways. The first art museum built in Buffalo in over 100 years, the BPAC will offer extensive exhibition space to house its collection of works by Charles Burchfield and other regional artists.

Set on a 70-foot cliff overlooking Lake Erie, Frank Lloyd Wright's stunning Graycliff Estate recently completed extensive exterior restorations of all three Wright-designed buildings, including its striking red roofs, massive stone chimneys, cantilevered balconies, and glass pavilion windows. Saved from demolition in 1998, Graycliff has emerged as a significant contribution to the canon of Wright's celebrated 'organic' style of architecture and recently received a $350,000 grant to further restorations.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Rowing Boathouse opened last fall on the shores of Buffalo's Black Rock Channel to great acclaim. Based on a 1905 design included in Frank Lloyd Wright's Wasmuth Portfolio series of distinctive Prairie Style lithographs, the $5.4 million boathouse is the new home of the nation's largest rowing club and is now open for architectural tours. Realized nearly a century after its design, the boathouse joins the Wright-designed Martin House and Graycliff in Buffalo's architectural landscape.

Housed in its original building by Green and Wicks (1900-1905) and an inspired modernist addition by Gordon Bunshaft (1962), the Albright-Knox Art Gallery is part of Buffalo's strong architectural tradition, and boasts exceptional collections of modern and contemporary art. The Albright-Knox recently debuted the exclusive showing of Panza Collection: An Experience of Color and Light, on view through February 24, 2008.

Extensive restoration and renovation of Buffalo's landmark Richardson Olmsted Complex (H.H. Richardson's Buffalo State Hospital) is underway, and plans to repurpose the historic buildings and Frederick Law Olmsted-designed grounds as a mixed-use, multi-purpose campus will begin next year.

The redevelopment of Buffalo's new $49 million public waterfront along the historic Erie Canal Harbor is nearing completion. A park will take the prominent place along the waterfront esplanade, which will also include space for concerts and events as well as retail space. The restored terminus of the Erie Canal also features maritime facilities and a new home for the Buffalo Naval and Military Park.

The community has also invested in the ongoing preservation and restoration of the historic Roycroft Campus in nearby East Aurora. Following the renovation of the historic Roycroft Inn, the current phase of campus restoration includes the $3 million reconstruction of the Power House and the Copper Shop. Founded in 1895 by Elbert Hubbard, the Roycrofters were a community of skilled craftsmen--printers, book designers, furniture-makers--whose work is now highly sought after by collectors of Arts and Crafts Movement artifacts.

These initiatives reflect the city's ongoing cultural and civic investment in its celebrated art and architectural history. The city of Buffalo boasts one of the strongest architectural histories in the United States, with landmarks designed by Frank Lloyd Wright (Darwin D. Martin House and Graycliff Estate), H.H. Richardson (former Buffalo State Hospital), Eliel and Eero Saarinen (Kleinhans Music Hall), Louis Sullivan (Guaranty Building), Stanford White (Williams-Pratt Mansion), and Frederick Law Olmsted (Buffalo Parks and Parkways). The diversity of architects illustrates Buffalo's unique role in American history as a city of culture and innovation.

For more information, please visit: or contact Ed Healy at 716-852-0511


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