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Buffalo 101

Newest class of architects and planners get a day-long introduction to school's "city as classroom" approach

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Published September 4, 2017

Incoming students jumped right into the classroom on a day-long orientation tour of Buffalo's world-class architecture and urban design.

The city-wide tour - now in its third year - was developed by Gregory Delaney, clinical assistant professor of architecture, as a fun and immersive experience of the city as a source of inspiration and site of investigation for aspiring architects and planners. A central orientation experience, the tour has become a key introduction to the school's hands-on engagement with its urban landscape for experimentation and community-driven research in design and planning.

Kerry Traynor, clinical associate professor of urban and regional planning, tailored the tour this year for urban planning students with expanded explorations of urban design landmarks, studies in historic preservation, neighborhood tours and examples of infill development.

Students spent eight hours touring the city by bus and foot. Their nearly three dozen stops included Buffalo's architectural masterworks: City Hall, the Guaranty Building, the Darwin Martin House, the Richardson Olmsted Complex, Ellicott Square, the M&T Bank Building and Kleinhans Music Halll.

The packed itinerary also included explorations of urban renewal at the site of the former Paul Rudolph-designed Shoreline Apartments, recently demolished to make way for new construction. Urban design field studies included a key nexus of Buffalo's radial and grid street plans at Niagara Square; traversing the city's Olmsted Parks and Parkways, and in depth tours of Buffalo's grain elevators and the surrounding post-industrial landscape. 

Traynor says the tour has been a great success. "Students have the opportunity to see our history - a successful port city in her glory days and the amazing architecture that resulted. They get a glimpse of the city's current renaissance and our works in progress.

Citing the adage, 'a rising tide raises all boats,'" Traynor added: "The 'city as classroom' addresses all of these issues - and possibly the most important one: "are the boats sound?' We covered this specifically with our visit to Central Terminal. The redevelopment of this site, and the relationship to the surrounding neighborhood, encapsulates so many of the issues facing Buffalo right now."

A detailed brochure developed by guides Greg Delaney and Kerry Traynor outlined the itinerary and provided precedent studies of architecture and design around the world as illustrations of the influences and legacy impacts of Buffalo architectural landscape.