Track 4: This New World: Preservation technology and emerging issues within our historic buildings and built landscapes

General Abstract

4 - Silo City, Buffalo

Wednesday, September 26
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: HYATT-Delaware

The grain elevators of Buffalo comprise the most outstanding collection of elevators in the United States and collectively represent the variety of construction materials, building forms and technological innovations that revolutionized the handling of grain. Although a small number of sites have been demolished, nearly twenty elevators dating from 1897 to 1954 have survived the collapse of the Great Lakes grain trade. Most are abandoned and only a few are still being used in the grain industry. Together, they form an extraordinary landscape of dense, sculptural verticality clustered along the Buffalo River.

Rick Smith bought the group of four elevators behind his metal workshop in 2005. Having prevented their demolition, removed commercial pressure and spent a decade clearing rubble, Rick and his team reopened the gates and invited people from Buffalo and beyond to help determine Silo City’s future. The site has become a laboratory for the arts and industry, with cavernous spaces and dramatic landscapes transformed through the arts, horticulture, education, urban sport and heritage tourism.


The privately-funded initiative gives the grain elevators of Silo City time and public access to see if they can find their own way forwards - part of an extraordinary experiment in slow-burn regeneration. New uses are evolving organically and intuitively through the interest of local people, underpinned by a strong sense of shared custodianship. University of Buffalo students are regular visitors. Visual arts and music festivals welcome 15,000 visitors over a single weekend. The dramatic industrial landscapes that ebb and flow between the elevators are being gradually transformed through wild flower meadows, bee gardens and sustainable riparian landscapes designed for phytoremediation, biodiversity and water management.

The project is at a critical stage, on the brink of securing pioneer tenants from which a colony can grow. The regenerative potential of the site is intertwined with the wider city, still in transition from industrial predominance with growing strengths in higher education, banking, life science and food production. As part of a potential regeneration mix, it is exciting to imagine how some of the 23 million annual visitors to Niagara Falls can be encouraged the few miles upriver to Buffalo. Material evidence of a prosperous past, Silo City has a critical role to play in pursuit of a vibrant, post-industrial future for itself and the city.

Learning Objectives:

Miriam Kelly, RIBA, AABC, ARB

Silo City

Miriam Kelly is a British architect accredited in architectural conservation and experienced in the repair and adaptive reuse of historic buildings. An associate at Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners in New York, her projects include the restoration of Eero Saarinen’s TWA Flight Center and Marcel Breuer’s former Whitney Museum for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Miriam has worked at some of the most sensitive historic sites in the UK including Windsor Castle and the Royal Pavilion Estate. Miriam first visited Silo City in 2013 as part a Winston Churchill Fellowship during which she visited sixty industrial regeneration projects in Europe and the USA. A long-time advocate for the social and economic regeneration of redundant industrial sites, she was involved in projects at Chatterley Whitfield coal mine and the mill buildings at Ditherington - the oldest iron-framed structures in the world. Miriam is a Scholar of the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) and a Fellow of the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust.

Presentation(s):

Send Email for Miriam Kelly

David N. Fixler, FAIA, LEED AP BD&C

Principal
David Fixler, Architect

David Fixler, FAIA is an architect specializing in the rehabilitation of modern structures including works such as Alvar Aalto’s Baker House, and Eero Saarinen's Kresge Auditorium and Chapel - all at MIT, Louis Kahn’s Richards Labs at the University of Pennsylvania and the United Nations Headquarters. A frequent contributor to the evolving dialogue on modern structures and preservation theory, David’s work has been published internationally and he has lectured and taught at numerous institutions and events throughout the United States and 12 other countries on 5 continents. His writings include Aalto and America, published in 2012 by Yale University Press (with Stanford Anderson and Gail Fenske), articles in journals such as Change Over Time, CRM, Architecture Boston, the DOCOMOMO Journal, Traditional Building, Ptah and Spazio. He has guest edited special issues of the Journal of Architectural Conservation and the APT Bulletin, to which he is also a frequent contributor. David has helped organize numerous conferences on a wide-range of topics. A Peer Review architect for the GSA, he plays a leadership role in a variety of global organizations, including APT (co-founder and past Co-Chair of the Technical Committee on Modern Heritage), the Society of Architectural Historians and DOCOMOMO.

Presentation(s):

Send Email for David Fixler


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