Conferences

Exploring the Social Design Narratives of Buffalo, New York

Posted on: August 17th, 2011 by Guest Writer

 


(Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Written by David Rose

The City of Buffalo and the Eastern Great Lakes region, as a whole, bears a wealth of history that spans well beyond great architecture and landscape design. At every corner there is a story that is sown deep into local, national and international memory. Robert Shibley, the Dean of Architecture & Planning at SUNY Buffalo, suggests that in order to be familiar with the city one must learn the story of Fredrick Law Olmsted’s system of parkways, Joseph Ellicott’s radial grid and the diverse functionality of the water throughout the city’s history. The narratives that frame the architecture and design features of Buffalo have great depth, building a legacy that has immensely contributed to the development of the city. If we commit to a holistic understanding of these stories then we may find ourselves getting through to Buffalo “for real.”

Michigan Avenue Baptist Church, home to an underground railroad station before the Civil War. (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Consider, for instance, the social implications of Fredrick Law Olmsted's abolitionist disposition as we peruse his masterfully created system of parkways throughout the city. Olmsted, who took to the southern United States just prior to the Civil War and reported on slave life in the ‘Cotton Kingdom’, calling on President Lincoln to stop the spread of slavery out west, was a social designer. His conceptualization of ‘The Parade’ in Buffalo, now Martin Luther King Park, took into account the celebratory culture of German immigrants that resided in close proximity to its locale.

We may also draw connections between Joseph Ellicott's radial grid street plan, his Quaker heritage and familial ties with Benjamin Banneker, a man of African descent who was commissioned by the Ellicott family to survey the nations capital. Joseph Ellicott’s radial grid plan was inspired by the outlay of Paris in the same manner as his brother Andrew and Benjamin Banneker’s workings for Washington DC. The intent was to bring communities of people together. I am sure that Olmsted and Ellicott believed that they were laying the groundwork for what would be the city’s social conscious, by design.

Finally the water was the key element in producing the city’s hydropower and industry. It existed long before Olmsted, Ellicott, Sullivan, Richardson, Wright and countless other place makers in Buffalo developed their crafts. The water sustained the livelihood of American natives for centuries, being used most notably as a vessel that brought fugitive slaves to freedom. It is such socio-architectural underpinnings that aid in preserving the past while cultivating a social meaning for those who are often left at the periphery of the preservation movement.... Read More →

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

What does B-U-F-F-A-L-O spell? Preservation.

Posted on: August 10th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Priya Chhaya

The current issue of Forum Journal. (Image: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

If there ever was a time to yell out “stop the presses” it would have been about three weeks ago here in the Forum office. Our editor was about give the green light to our printer on the newest issue of Forum Journal when an email popped up in our inbox. "Plan for new Peace Bridge abandoned" the headline proclaimed—linking to an article from BuffaloNews.com.

Though details are still developing, we decided to stop the presses this one time to make sure that news of this victory made it in the most recent Forum Journal, which looks at Buffalo as a living laboratory for preservation.

A few weeks ago, I admitted my role as a cheerleader for the National Preservation Conference and gave a few reasons why this city is at the forefront of some important preservation trends. The Summer 2011 issue of Forum Journal demonstrates the city’s commitment to preservation at all levels. To some extent you can think of it as a primer for the conference, but also as a real way to get to know Buffalonians who are doing some inspiring work.

  • In her introduction, Catherine Schweitzer tells the story of Buffalo past, present, and future—introducing us to some of the city’s important preservation players that range from a local preservation organization to collaborative groups that focus on neighborhoods and parks.
  • Kathleen Mecca and Roberta Lane document the twenty year long fight to save neighborhoods from a threatened expansion of Peace Bridge which connects the United States to Canada--with a surprise, and welcome, ending.
  • We learn more about the role of Frederick Law Olmsted in creating one of the most expansive park systems in the United States. Thomas Herrera-Mishler narrates the conservation of these parks, stating that “[Olmsted] expressed the belief that Buffalo was ‘the best planned city, as to its streets, public places and grounds in the United States, if not the world.’”
  • Jack Quinan reveals the role Frank Lloyd Wright buildings play in Buffalo, not only as a possible tool for heritage tourism, but also the piece they play in a larger architectural conversation involving H.H. Richardson, Adler & Sullivan, and Eliel Saarinen.
  • One of the stories I mentioned in my earlier blog was about the amazing work that Buffalo has done on its public school system. A ten year program costing over $1 billion, this project “is the largest preservation project Buffalo has ever seen.” Paul McDonnell traces the way in which the city has preserved Buffalo’s historic public schools for the 21st century.
  • And finally, Aaron Bartley talks of the role neighborhood groups have played in community development. He states that “by adopting ‘block-by-block’ strategies, in which resources are concentrated in districts that are poised to regain the density…neighborhoods on all sides of the city are rebounding.”

Want to learn more? As a Forum member this issue is available in PDF form and as individual articles in the Forum library. You can also purchase this issue on our Preservation Books website.

Note: Preservation Books is having its biggest sale ever. Save an additional 20% (and on top of your regular member discounts) off all titles when you use the code SUMMER11 at checkout.

Haven’t registered for the conference yet? Register online from now through October 14.

Priya Chhaya is a program associate in the Partnerships Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

My Reasons for Attending the National Preservation Conference

Posted on: August 9th, 2011 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 


A break-out session at last year's conference in Austin, Texas. (Photo: National Trust for Historic Preservation)

Written by Kayla Jonas

Hello! My name is Kayla Jonas, and I’m a Canadian. To be more specific, I am from Hamilton, a city about an hour outside of Toronto. I will be attending the upcoming National Preservation Conference in Buffalo, New York. Why would a Canadian attend a national conference on US heritage? Here are my top reasons for attending:

1) Best Practices

One of the best things about conferences is learning about how other people are doing things. Going to a conference in another country will be particularly enlightening. The US and Canada have different regulatory frameworks as well as different types of preservation organizations. The conference will be a great opportunity to get insight into best practices and innovative new ideas that are used across the US.

2) Networking

Since I started blogging and tweeting (and co-hosting the #builtheritage twitter chats), I’ve met some amazing people virtually. I know many of them are attending the conference, so I’m excited to meet them in person. Of course, I’m also looking forward to meeting people who I haven’t bumped into yet, both off and online!

3) Location, Location, Location

Location is always important, and the location of this conference is ideal for me and other Canadians to attend. Buffalo is only about an hour from my place, and for people living in Toronto it's only a 90 minute drive.

4) Industrial Buffalo

I’ve driven through Buffalo many times on my way to shopping destinations and sporting events. The industrial areas of Buffalo have always caught my eye. I’m looking forward to learning more about the area and what is being done to preserve and reuses these buildings. It's also photographer’s dream and I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to photograph some of these magnificent structures.

These are my reasons for attending. What are yours?

Kayla Jonas is a heritage professional based in Southern Ontario and blogs at Adventures in Heritage.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Central Terminal greets a new day in Buffalo. (Photo: Jason Clement)

Ah, summer ... the glorious season where you're traveling for vacation, thinking about vacation, or picking up work for others on vacation. Either way, you're occupied, so we just wanted to send up a flare and remind you that early bird registration for the National Preservation Conference ends THIS SUNDAY, July 31.

Yes, I know, we're asking you to think three months in advance when you probably haven't even considered your next meal. But trust me, you want to lock in your spot now. Here are three reasons why, pulled from a jam-packed program:

  • James Howard Kuntsler. This author, blogger, critic, artist, and provocateur will welcome the National Preservation Conference to Buffalo and to his home state of New York at the Opening Plenary Session. An expert on cities and a vocal opponent of suburban sprawl, Kuntsler won’t mince words about the economy, the environment, and how good planning and preservation can work together to save our communities -- if given the chance.
  • Isabel Wilkerson. She spent most of her career as a national correspondent and bureau chief at The New York Times, is the first black woman to win a Pulitzer Prize in the history of American journalism and was the first black American to win the Pulitzer for individual reporting. Inspired by her own parents’ migration, she devoted fifteen years to the research and writing of the book The Warmth of Other Suns. She interviewed more than 1,200 people, unearthed archival works and gathered the voices of the famous and the unknown to tell the epic story of the relocation of an entire people. (And you'd miss this?)
  • Buffalo itself. Wow. Just ... wow. Preservation magazine's in love with it. The Buffalo Unscripted team's in love with it. And we're pretty certain you'll fall in love with it too. Register now for your chance to experience a city on the rise.

Besides, if you register now, you save big. And that means more money for ice cream while you're on vacation.

Thanks for joining us!

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi

Julia Rocchi is the associate director for digital content at the National Trust. By day she wrangles content; by night (and weekends), she shops local, travels to story-rich places, and walks around looking up at buildings.

Buffalo! Buff-alo! Buff-a-lo!

Posted on: July 13th, 2011 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments

 

Written by Priya Chhaya

Buffalo's Central Terminal Building (Photo: Jason Clement)

Buffalo's Central Terminal Building (Photo: Jason Clement)

Those of you that read this blog regularly know that I am a huge cheerleader for the National Preservation Conference. I believe that there is no better time to gather together and get the lay of the land, make new contacts, and solidify existing professional relationships — not to mention gathering new tools to be a successful preservationist.

And like a broken record, I know that I say EVERY YEAR, that this year’s conference is going to be better than the last one. (And yes, I did just hear the mutterings of “Buffalo—really?” through the internets.)

Super powers aside, I will be the first to admit that five/six months ago, I would have been right there with you. So what changed? I started listening, and reading, about our host city while thinking about the dramatic changes and issues that preservationists have faced in the last year. And I realized that all that talk about Buffalo being a living laboratory for the preservation field is completely true.

Fact: PUSH Buffalo (People United for Sustainable Housing), recently won an Ashoka Changemakers award for the development of a Green Development Zone (GDZ) on Buffalo's West Side. This GDZ concentrates investments in green affordable housing, geo-thermal and solar energy, green jobs training, and urban agriculture. In order to accomplish this vision for the GDZ, PUSH engaged in an extensive community planning involving hundreds of neighborhood residents.

Fact: Buffalo is the home to Steel Winds, a successful alternative energy project which is built on 30 acres of a former industrial (and Superfund) site, and serves as a model of how future sustainable projects can work without engaging in preservation concerns. (Learn more about this in the next issue of Forum Journal due out later this month.)

Fact: Buffalo Public Schools are in the final phase of a one billion dollar (yep, you read that right) project to integrate green technologies into Buffalo’s historic school system.

Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House (Photo: Jason Clement)

Frank Lloyd Wright's Darwin Martin House (Photo: Julia Rocchi)

Fact: Buffalo is home to magnificent Olmsted Parks, along with striking rehabilitation and adaptive use success stories in architecture by American greats Frank Lloyd Wright and H.H. Richardson.

So while one my posts last year looked back at conferences of years past, this year I am aiming to look forward and talk about opportunities.

I believe that if you come to Buffalo for this year’s National Preservation Conference you will have the opportunity to look at preservation through the eyes of a city that is embracing the future through its past. The work that the community and preservation organizations are accomplishing involves taking a realistic view of the changes in our economy and a way of life—and understand that change does not only mean building new, but also looking at new ways to use existing assets to revitalize a city that many have long since written off.

So come visit Buffalo for the first time with me this October and we’ll all cheer together: Buffalo! Buff-alo! Buff-a-lo!

By the way: Early Bird Registration ends on July 31. Register early to save money!

Priya Chhaya is a program associate in the Partnerships Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.