Elevator B Recognized by International Design Magazine

The award-winning Elevator B is a 22-foot steel tower housing a colony of bees on Buffalo's waterfront.

The award-winning Elevator B is a 22-foot steel tower housing a colony of bees on Buffalo's waterfront. Photo by Hive City Design Team

Published August 24, 2017

Elevator B, a steel tower that UB students designed and built to house a colony of bees along Buffalo’s waterfront, continues to receive recognition from the international architecture community.

The honeycomb-themed dwelling was announced June 13 as the winner of the AZURE 2013 AZ Award for Design Excellence in the category of “Best Student Work.” Sponsored by the design magazine Azure, the AZ awards represent a global snapshot of the world of architecture and design, with submissions from designers, architects, firms and manufacturers, as well as students of design and architecture.   

The award is the second international recognition for the project in only three months. In March, Elevator B was announced as the Jury Award winner in the Student Design/Build Project category of the Architizer A+ Awards.

The bee dwelling is the result of a student design competition organized by the School of Architecture and Planning’s Ecological Practices Graduate Research Group and sponsored by Rigidized Metals Corporation, a Buffalo-based building material manufacturer. The goal of the project was to design a habitat for the relocation of a colony of honeybees occupying a building set to undergo renovation.

Elevator B's design team consisted of five graduate students in the School of Architecture and Planning: Courtney Creenan, Kyle Mastalinski and Daniel Nead, all now graduates of the Master of Architecture and Master of Urban Planning dual-degree program, and Scott Selin and Lisa Stern, 2012 graduates of the MArch program.

Erected last year in Silo City, a dense cluster of grain elevators along Buffalo's waterfront, the 22-foot tower is sheathed in perforated stainless steel panels with a hexagonal “bee cab” to protect the bees. The bee cab can also be lowered so that beekeepers can tend to the colony and visitors can observe them through the cab’s glass bottom.


The honeycomb inside Elevator B after five months of growth. Photo: Hive City Design Team

The 2013 AZ Award competition drew 677 entries from 38 countries, ranging from Mexico to Lebanon to Belgium. Elevator B was one of 14 winners. In addition to student design, award categories include landscape architecture, residential and commercial architecture, interior design and furniture design.

Winners were selected by an international jury of leading figures in architecture and design, including architects Shirley Blumberg of Toronto’s Kuwabara Payne McKenna Blumberg and Todd Saunders of Oslo’s Saunders Architecture; furniture designer Todd Bracher of New York’s Todd Bracher Studio; interior designer George Yabu of Yabu Pushelberg (based in Toronto and New York); New York landscape architect Ken Smith of Workshop; and visionary Milan-based manufacturer and designer Giulio Cappellini of Cappellini.

Elevator B has been recognized locally as well, winning the Buffalo Architecture Foundation’s 2012 Pro Bono Publico Award in Design Excellence.