Master Plan for Richardson Olmsted Complex takes shape with community input
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
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 fourth in a series of meetings with the community. The 1870 historic campus is comprised of the H. H. Richardson designed buildings and Frederick Law Olmsted designed grounds. The RCC and its team of consultants presented an overview of the project and its status.
The RCC and its team of Master Plan consultants opened the meeting by introducing the Community Advisory Group, a representative group of community stakeholders convened by the RCC to promote community involvement. The Community Advisory Group includes nearly 20 representatives from the community surrounding the Richardson Olmsted Complex. The group includes nearby residents, neighborhood organizations, business associations, college students, cultural institutions, historic preservationists, the Buffalo Psychiatric Center, Buffalo State College and the City of Buffalo.
The Master Plan team, headed by Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, presented preliminary suggestions for the reuse potential of the Richardson Olmsted Complex and precedents for its redevelopment. David Gamble, Project Manager with Chan Krieger Sieniewicz, stated, "The Master Plan seeks to capitalize on all of the great amenities nearby the Richardson Olmsted Complex and find creative opportunities for reuse of the historic structure. We are working closely with the Master Plan Advisory Group, important stakeholders and the public to understand their concerns and interests in the project. Community input at the public meetings and online is critically important.”
Stabilization efforts continue to prevent further deterioration and vandalism. The structural shoring is complete on Building 43, the former female kitchen located behind the towers administration building, stabilizing the building from collapse and sealing the roof from further water damage. The roof of the connector between Buildings 42 and 43 was also sealed, covering gaping holes that existed for years. The shoring of the collapsing connector link between Buildings 39 and 40 is progressing; the building permit was granted but progress
has been delayed to resolve safety issues. Electrical designs are 60% complete and when installed and completed this fall will allow for exterior perimeter lighting and a heat detection system. Ongoing efforts to address safety and security, including security patrols and sealing areas of entry, are taking place.
The RCC announced the hiring of Ralph Appelbaum Associates to develop a Visualized Concept Study for the Architecture and Visitor Center. RAA is a nationally known interpretive museum design firm that designs and produces award-winning museum exhibitions, visitor centers, and educational environments. ConsultEcon will prepare the companion market and economic analysis. The Architecture and Visitor Center will serve as a showcase and center for information and directions to Western New York’s architectural and cultural assets.
The Historic Structures Report is complete and recommendations were presented by Jean Carroon, Principal at Goody Clancy. The HSR evaluated the historic integrity of the building complex and presents recommendations for their rehabilitation. The document highlights the importance of the entire site as a rare example of the continuum of mental health treatment over time, from 19th century asylum treatment to community-based care and modern medical facilities.
Carrie Mardorf, Project Manager at Heritage Landscapes, presented highlights of the Cultural Landscape Report, which documents the history, significance and rehabilitation of the historic landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr., and Calvert Vaux in 1871.
Following these presentations, the Community Advisory Group led a community visioning session for the Richardson Olmsted Complex. The community in attendance discussed ideas presented by the Master Plan team, articulated their vision and goals for the Master Plan, and described community issues that need to be addressed.