More than 4,000 churches close their doors in the United States every year. For Buffalo, severe population loss has compounded an ever-increasing number of vacant churches—buildings that, while highly regarded in the urban fabric, are notoriously difficult to repurpose. The former Immaculate Conception Church demonstrates an attitude towards adaptive reuse that counters traditional notions of preservation and restoration, treating the building as a site for exploration and transformation. Now home to the Society for the Advancement of Construction Related Arts (SACRA), its interior houses an imaginative workforce training program that pairs social services with workshops that bolster creative thinking and technical skills in carpentry and woodworking.
The school's engagement with adaptive reuse and historic preservation intersects with our explorations of urban design and planning, architecture and real estate development.