Master Plan scenarios presented for historic buildings, grounds and Architecture and Visitor Center at the Richardson Olmsted Complex
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Buffalo, NY. The Richardson Center Corporation (RCC) — the not-for-profit corporation whose mission is the rehabilitation of the National Historic Landmark Richardson Olmsted Complex, the former Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane — held the fifth in a series of meetings with the community. Preliminary master planning schemes for the historic buildings and grounds and an exhibit program concept for the Architecture and Visitor Center were presented.
Gregory Patterson-Tanski and Max Willig, co-chairs of the Master Plan Community Advisory Group, stated that community input on the master plan is invaluable in creating a plan that will rehabilitate the historic campus and benefit the neighborhood and its residents. The Community Advisory Group is a representative group of community stakeholders convened by the RCC to promote community involvement in the master planning process.
Ralph Appelbaum Associates, an interpretive museum design firm nationally known for museums such as the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and Newseum, presented the exhibit and program concept for the Architecture and Visitor Center. The exhibit program focuses on high technology displays to celebrate the region’s architecture, urban design, landscape design and cultural institutions. The interactive program and interpretive exhibits will engage visitors and encourage the exploration of Buffalo and the region’s treasures. In addition, outdoor installations and events were proposed to activate the entire site. A companion feasibility report by ConsultEcon is underway to provide the market and economic analysis.
The Master Plan team, led by the architecture and urban design firm of Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, presented their preliminary scenarios for reuse of the historic structure, rehabilitation of the landscape and modifications to surface parking and site circulation. David Gamble, Project Manager with Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, stated, “The reuse and revitalization of the historic H.H. Richardson structures, and rehabilitation of the fragmented Olmsted landscape represents an unique opportunity in the City of Buffalo to create vibrant and mixed-use destination for the entire region and beyond.”
Economic analysis of the city and regional market indicates that viable reuse options include a boutique hotel, conference center and event spaces. Additional opportunities are an Architecture and Visitor Center and uses related to academic, high-end residential and arts and culture activities.
The preliminary scenarios recommend creating a destination by starting with the development of an Architecture and Visitor Center and boutique hotel in the central towers Administration Building and two adjacent ward buildings.
The landscape scenarios, developed by the firm of Reed Hilderbrand, include rehabilitation of the South Lawn, the historic south entry at Forest Avenue, and a new north entrance. The circulation schemes proposed modifications of the vehicular and pedestrian pathways to reestablish Olmstedian boulevards in a park-like setting. Reconfigured parking schemes utilized creative solutions to reduce surface parking. Recommendations included parallel parking on new and existing roadways and a series of small well landscaped parking lots.
Stabilization efforts continue to prevent further deterioration and vandalism. An additional $7.6 of stabilization funds was approved in January, 2009 to ready the sandstone buildings for occupancy. The structural shoring is complete on connector between Buildings 39 and 40. The repair of connectors between Buildings 38 and 39 and Buildings 40 and 42 will begin this spring. Electric work was delayed, pending negotiations with the Office of Mental Health, and is anticipated to be complete this summer. The electricity will provide for exterior perimeter lighting and a heat detection system. Ongoing efforts to address safety and security are taking place, including security patrols and sealing areas of entry.
The next public meeting will be the Generic Environmental Impact Scoping meeting in March, 2009 At this meeting the building and grounds alternatives will be presented and the opportunity for public comments on the adverse impacts, complying with the requirements of the State Environmental Quality Review Act.
The final master plan will be presented at a public meeting in May, 2009.