ARC404LAB-0003: City Assemblies


This course will explore a unique model for community‐engaged architecture education while engaging the confluence of history, preservation, hands‐on skill building, design and construction. 

We will use the building at 150 Edward Street in downtown Buffalo as a teaching tool and learning environment. The building—a  former  church,  originally  constructed  around  1870  and  altered  several  times—is  a  contributing structure to a historic district.  It was vacant from 2002‐2014 and is now home to Assembly House 150, a not‐for‐profit art and architecture project space that specializes in the design and display of imaginative  environments,  furnishings,  and  aesthetic  objects,  while  hosting  public  exhibitions,  educational programs and events that enhance the sense of wonder within everyday surroundings.


The work of Dennis Maher has ranged from a localized form of civic activism and material experimentation to a synthetic proposition for re-imagining the post-industrial environment  through a variety of modes and media.

The primary program of Assembly House 150 is the Society for the Advancement of Construction Related Arts (SACRA).    SACRA  is  a  15‐week  skill‐building  initiative  in  carpentry  and  woodworking  that  has  been  developed in collaboration with the Albright‐Knox Art Gallery.  SACRA teaches skills in craftsmanship and construction  to  unemployed  city  residents,  providing  career  opportunities  to  members  of  under‐resourced communities while helping to shape a culture of excellence in craftsmanship, construction and design.  Participants in this course will engage with the building—and with the community of builders—at Assembly House 150.  We will collectively explore the totality of this environment as an assemblage of various social and material histories, in order to potential futures for the city and its inhabitants.