International Architecture Conference Turns Lens on Buffalo

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500 built environment professionals discuss Buffalo’s future at the Society of Architectural Historians Annual Conference, April 10-14

Ellicott Square Building, Photo by David Schalliol

SAH recognizes Buffalo as a great incubator of 21st century design solutions that are moving the city toward a vibrant, livable and prosperous future.

The Society of Architectural Historians 66th Annual Conference will be held in Buffalo this year, hosting more than 500 professionals and scholars from over 25 countries to present new work, learn about Buffalo’s architecture, and generate dialog about Buffalo’s built environment between local and international audiences.

The Society of Architectural Historians has deliberately chosen its conference host cities from 2010 – 2013 to connect the history of the built environment to issues facing cities in the 21st century. In 2011 SAH held its conference in New Orleans, and in 2012 the conference was in Detroit, addressing how built environment professionals and scholars face challenges of deindustrialization, population decline, and economic hardship. The 2013 conference in Buffalo reframes these issues—with its rich architecture and landscape history, the focus will be how Buffalo uses preservation as a tool for long-term urban, cultural, and economic sustainability.

The main forum for these issues will be the SAH Buffalo Seminar, titled The Sustainable Post-Industrial City: Using our Architectural Legacy for New Growth and Vitality, which will include fifteen panelists from Buffalo’s leading built environment organizations, firms, and institutions: the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, The Olmsted Parks Conservancy, Buffalo Energy, The City of Buffalo, Preservation Studios, the State Historic Preservation Office, Schneider Design Architects, Visit Buffalo Niagara, Broadway-Fillmore Alive, the Baird Foundation, and the Buffalo Preservation Board.

Tom Yots, Preservation Buffalo Niagara, and Despina Stratigakos, University at Buffalo, are serving on the Local Committee as conference as co-chairs. They write, “Today, as Buffalo rebounds economically, we are faced with the challenge of more actively conserving its architectural legacy. The SAH Buffalo Seminar will give voice to the many organizations that are working not only to save buildings, but also to revitalize neighborhoods and create a sense of place. In Buffalo, historic preservation stands at the center of a much larger project to foster economic and social growth.”

Continuing the conversation from the SAH Buffalo Seminar, the conference will feature a roundtable with Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic who has contributed to the New York Times, The New Yorker, and Vanity Fair. Titled Future Design Solutions for Buffalo, the roundtable will include a presentation on creating a “Buffalo preservation plan” by Robert Shibley, Dean of the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning, and Catherine Schweitzer, Executive Director at The Baird Foundation. “SAH chose Buffalo as its conference site because the city is world-renowned for its architecture, landscapes and city planning. However, SAH also recognizes Buffalo as a great incubator of 21st century design solutions that are moving the city toward a vibrant, livable and prosperous future,” noted SAH Executive Director Pauline Saliga.

In addition, SAH is collaborating with PechaKucha Buffalo to host a PechaKucha at Asbury Hall, the church turned performance venue by indie Buffalo musician Ani DiFranco. This PechaKucha, a fast-paced presentation format devised for young designers, will feature presentations by SAH members and local designers, architects, and historians.

The SAH conference will also bring a significant discussion from New York to Buffalo on the joint acquisition of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives by Columbia University’s Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library and New York’s Museum of Modern Art. This closing night event, Housing Wright: The Joint Acquisition of the Frank Lloyd Wright Archive, will be held at the Darwin Martin House Complex and is hosted by the Temple Hoyne Buell Center for the Study of American Architecture.

Twenty-nine tours to locations in and around Buffalo will highlight the city’s unique cultural heritage. In-depth tours will uncover little-known aspects of Buffalo’s Modernist icons, including the Guaranty Building, Buffalo Psychiatric Center, grain silos, and Kleinhans Music Hall, among others. Additionally, tours will focus on the historically African American East Side, the newly restored Lafayette Hotel by Louise Bethune, and the history of electricity at Niagara Falls. Tours also will address how Buffalo’s abundance of inexpensive housing has fostered art and new ways of living as well as how urban farming gives inner-city residents access to healthy, fresh food.

The academic portion of the SAH conference includes 35 paper sessions; one panel focuses specifically on the architectural history of Buffalo. The SAH Conference provides an opportunity for scholars to take what they learn from the city back to their universities around the world for use in the classroom, in research, and in collaborative projects. SAH and Buffalo invite you to explore the city’s rich architectural and urban heritage, while also joining in the discussions of how to draw on a larger legacy of experimentation in reimagining the future of the built environment

Conference Sponsors:
The University at Buffalo
Boston Valley Terra Cotta
AIA New York State
Erie Canalway National Heritage Corridor
Despina Stratigakos
Peter C. Cornell Trust
Robert and Patricia Colby Foundation
The Margaret L. Wendt Foundation
University at Buffalo Libraries
The Institute for Research & Education on Women & Gender

Conference Partners:
The Architect’s Newspaper
Visit Buffalo Niagara
Darwin Martin House Complex
Hyatt Regency Buffalo
Preservation Buffalo Niagara
Temple Hoyne Buell center for the Study of American Architecture
The University at Buffalo

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Kara Elliott-Ortega
Society of Architectural Historians
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