written by:
October 21, 2009

Last week I traveled back East to my hometown of Buffalo, New York. Though we may not be able to consistently win a football game, we Buffalonians do know good architecture when we see it. The Queen City has recently been praised for its buildings, as well as its livability, and for this installment of Three Buildings, I'm pointing you to my personal favorites.

The Darwin Martin House. Image courtesy Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gmeadows2/3977576413/
">Gmeadows1</a>.
The Darwin Martin House. Image courtesy Flickr user Gmeadows1.
1 / 4
The Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion. Image courtesy <a href="http://www.tmarch.com/projects/cultural/darwin_d._martin_house_visitor_center/
">Toshiko Mori Architect</a>.
The Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion. Image courtesy Toshiko Mori Architect.
2 / 4
East elevation of Buffalo City Hall, circa 1981. Image courtesy the United States Library of Congress' Prints and Photographs Division.
East elevation of Buffalo City Hall, circa 1981. Image courtesy the United States Library of Congress' Prints and Photographs Division.
3 / 4
The Buffalo Evening News, watercolor by Dr. V. Roger Lalli.
The Buffalo Evening News, watercolor by Dr. V. Roger Lalli.
4 / 4
The Darwin Martin House. Image courtesy Flickr user <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gmeadows2/3977576413/
">Gmeadows1</a>.
The Darwin Martin House. Image courtesy Flickr user Gmeadows1.

Darwin Martin House and Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion

Buffalo is blessed with numerous Frank Lloyd Wright buildings—and a community willing to invest in restoration and preservation. The most iconic FLW in the area is the Darwin Martin House, designed by Wright for Martin and his family and completed in 1905. Nestled in a residential neighborhood just a short walk from the Buffalo Zoo, the complex comprises the main house, a pergola, a conservatory, a carriage house, a stable house, and Barton House, built for Martin’s sister and brother-in-law.

Having grown up in Buffalo, I’ve been lucky enough to watch the restorations in progress—from tours of the main house during major renovations to the reconstruction of the pergola, conservatory, and carriage house, to a backstage glimpse at the efforts to return original furniture to the home when I wrote an article years ago as a summer intern at The Buffalo News.

The Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion. Image courtesy <a href="http://www.tmarch.com/projects/cultural/darwin_d._martin_house_visitor_center/
">Toshiko Mori Architect</a>.
The Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion. Image courtesy Toshiko Mori Architect.

On my trip back to western New York last week, I took a drive over to Jewett Parkway, on which the house is located, to see the new Eleanor and Wilson Greatbatch Pavilion visitors’ center, designed by Toshiko Mori Architect. Despite its modern use of glass and a simple white palette, the building fits in perfectly with its surroundings. Tucked behind the home next door with lines and proportions that follow those of the Martin House, the pavilion sits quietly in the neighborhood rather than looking like an institutional building that fell from the sky.

The Martin House and Greatbatch Pavilion alone are worth the trip to Buffalo, but the greater western New York and northwestern Pennsylvania area also offers a handful of other FLW gems, including Graycliff, Kentuck Knob, Fallingwater, and the recently completed Fontana Boathouse, originally designed in 1905 for the University of Madison and completed in Buffalo along Lake Erie just last year.

Buffalo City Hall

East elevation of Buffalo City Hall, circa 1981. Image courtesy the United States Library of Congress' Prints and Photographs Division.
East elevation of Buffalo City Hall, circa 1981. Image courtesy the United States Library of Congress' Prints and Photographs Division.

After the Frank Lloyd Wrights, Buffalo’s City Hall is likely the most renowned building in the city and is also one of my personal favorites. Completed in 1931, the building is located on Niagara Square, a small park in the middle of one of Buffalo’s many traffic circles.

I have two favorite ways to experience this building. The first is from the top. When City Hall is open, there is free and public access up the slightly archaic elevators to a few flights of stairs, and, finally, to the central peak of the building, nearly 400 feet above street level. There you have a near-360-degree view of the city and are able to get a sense of its layout and the way it fits in the larger landscape.

The second is in the audience at one of the weekly outdoor concerts held as part of the annual summer Thursday at the Square music series. Hosted in Lafayette Park, the concerts are performed on a stage that has its back to the building. From the audience, City Hall appears to rise above the top row of stage spotlights. The cover of the official 2009-2010 Buffalo-Niagara visitors guide features a great photo of City Hall—plus both my dad and sister posing on its steps as tourists.

Buffalo News building

The Buffalo Evening News, watercolor by Dr. V. Roger Lalli.
The Buffalo Evening News, watercolor by Dr. V. Roger Lalli.

Far more obscure and tucked in the middle of several tall buildings in downtown Buffalo is the Buffalo News building. As I mentioned above, I had the pleasure of working as the arts reporting intern at The Buffalo News one summer when I first began writing and I was able to report here each day. The building rises five stories, and we were told the top floor was once a residence, which accounts for the balcony that wraps around the uppermost level as well as the interior garden. Today the top floor is used as a cafeteria for the paper’s staff. When I was there, we’d take our lunches and eat on the balcony—when the humidity dropped below 95 percent. Another fun fact that I love about this building is that not all of the elevators descend to the basement. The reason: the Erie Canal once flowed below where the building is today and due to this, the elevator shafts could not be extended down past the first floors.

The above buildings are my favorites in Buffalo, but it wouldn’t be fair not to give a nod to two others: the Guaranty Building and the Nabisco grain elevators. Designed by Louis Sullivan, the Guaranty Building was one of the first modern skyscrapers and one of the first to use curtain-wall construction. The Nabisco grain elevators, are located just north of Buffalo in Niagara Falls and their simple construction are said to have caught the eye of Le Corbusier, who included reference to grain elevators in Toward an Architecture.

Fellow Buffalonians (and all those who feel the Buffalove), nominate your favorite building in the city by adding a comment below.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

18
You don’t have to choose between sustainable energy and curb appeal.
July 19, 2016
jakemagnus queensland 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
July 06, 2016
content delzresidence 013 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 29, 2016
abc malacari marwick stair 01 0
A simple set of stairs is a remodel’s backbone.
June 28, 2016
Design Award of Excellence winner Mellon Square.
Docomomo US announces the winners of this year's Modernism in America Awards. Each project showcases exemplary modern restoration techniques, practices, and ideas.
June 27, 2016
monogram dwell sf 039 1
After last year’s collaboration, we were excited to team up with Monogram again for the 2016 Monogram Modern Home Tour.
June 27, 2016
switch over chicago smart renovation penthouse deck smar green ball lamps quinze milan lounge furniture garapa hardwood
A strategic rewire enhances a spec house’s gut renovation.
June 26, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent coralie gourguechon treviso italy cphotos by coralie gourguechon co produced by isdat planche anatomique de haut parleur1
Coralie Gourguechon's paper objects will make you see technology in a whole new way.
June 26, 2016
green machine smart home aspen colorado facade yard bocci deck patio savant
Smart technology helps a house in Aspen, Colorado, stay on its sustainable course.
June 25, 2016
Compact Aglol 11 television plastic brionvega.
The aesthetic appeal of personal electronics has long fueled consumer interest. A new industrial design book celebrates devices that broke the mold.
June 25, 2016
modern backyard deck ipe wood
An angled deck transforms a backyard in Menlo Park, California, into a welcoming gathering spot.
June 24, 2016
dscf5485 1
Today, we kicked off this year’s annual Dwell on Design at the LA Convention Center, which will continue through Sunday, June 26th. Though we’ve been hosting this extensive event for years, this time around is particularly special.
June 24, 2016
under the radar renovation napa
Two designers restore a low-slung midcentury gem in Napa, California, by an unsung Bay Area modernist.
June 24, 2016
Exterior of Huneeus/Sugar Bowl Home.
San Francisco–based designer Maca Huneeus created her family’s weekend retreat near Lake Tahoe with a relaxed, sophisticated sensibility.
June 24, 2016
light and shadow bathroom walnut storage units corian counter vola faucet
A Toronto couple remodel their home with a special emphasis on a spacious kitchen and a material-rich bathroom.
June 24, 2016
Affordable home in Kansas City living room
In Kansas City, an architecture studio designs an adaptable house for a musician on a budget.
June 23, 2016
modern lycabettus penthouse apartment oak vertical slats office
By straightening angles, installing windows, and adding vertical accents, architect Aaron Ritenour brought light and order to an irregularly shaped apartment in the heart of Athens, Greece.
June 23, 2016
kitchen confidential tiles custom cabinetry oak veneer timber house
A modest kitchen addition to a couple’s cottage outside of Brisbane proves that one 376-square-foot room can revive an entire home.
June 23, 2016
feldman architecture 0
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
June 22, 2016
Blackened timber Dutch home
A modern dwelling replaces a fallen farmhouse.
June 22, 2016
hillcrest house interior kitchen 3
Seeking an escape from bustling city life, a Manhattan couple embarks on a renovation in the verdant Hudson Valley.
June 22, 2016
angular
Atelier Moderno renovated an old industrial building to create a luminous, modern home.
June 21, 2016
San Francisco floating home exterior
Anchored in a small San Francisco canal, this floating home takes its cues from a classic city habitat.
June 21, 2016
modern renovation addition solar powered scotland facade steel balcony
From the bones of a neglected farmstead in rural Scotland emerges a low-impact, solar-powered home that’s all about working with what was already there.
June 21, 2016
up in the air small space new zealand facade corrugated metal cladding
An architect with a taste for unconventional living spaces creates a small house at lofty heights with a starring view.
June 21, 2016
young guns 2016 emerging talent marjan van aubel london cwai ming ng current window
Marjan Van Aubel makes technology a little more natural.
June 21, 2016
urban pastoral brooklyn family home facade steel cypress double
Building on the site of a former one-car garage, an architect creates his family’s home in an evolving neighborhood of Brooklyn.
June 20, 2016
Modern Brooklyn backyard studio with plexiglass skylight, green roof, and cedar cladding facade
In a Brooklyn backyard, an off-duty architect builds a structure that tests his attention to the little things.
June 20, 2016
the outer limits paris prefab home living area vertigo lamp constance guisset gijs bakker strip tablemetal panels
In the suburbs of Paris, an architect with an eco-friendly practice doesn’t let tradition stand in the way of innovation.
June 20, 2016
amaroso40040
When a garage damaged by termites had to go, a studio emerges.
June 19, 2016