It’s not the building, but the fabric….


Photo by David TorkeFixBuffalo

The only substantive thing about this recent Artvoice article was found buried in the comments. Commenter Dan Blather hit the nail right on the head with his response to Alan Bedenko’s most recent rambling rant.

It’s not the building, but the fabric.

In Buffalo, there has been a 60-plus year history of demolishing old buildings that fit into the urban fabric — substantial, human-scaled, and built to the sidewalk — and either replacing them with buildings that are more appropriate in a suburban context, or just never replacing them period.   Too often, when a building was demolished, plans to replace it with another urban-scaled structure never materialized, and we got the usual low profile, deeply set back “it’s better than nothing” option, or worse, a parking lot.

The Trico factory isn’t an attractive structure, but it’s an urban structure, one of the few remaining examples of the kind of structure that, in other cities, have been preserved en masse in now-vibrant “warehouse districts.” I think many fear the worst; it will be replaced with yet another building physically and psychologically disconnected from the urban environment that surrounds it.   History tells us the replacement for Trico will likely be something much less substantial, set back far from the sidewalk, with the usual large surface parking lot. 

Buffalo may have a proud architectural legacy, but it’s only the rare time when a new building is an improvement over the structure it replaced; when a new building is something that could be considered worthy of preservation efforts by future generations.  Will the building that replaces Trico be worthy of its surroundings? Will it be substantial? Will it fit in to the urban fabric as well as Trico?


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