Buffalo Town Center

The influx of the Canadian industry along the border of Western New York helped revitalize the otherwise decaying areas around Buffalo. With the improvement of economy, new towns, each demanding their own identity, are developing along the Niagara River. In one such area, an abandoned marina was proposed to be developed to incorporate a new town center which would serve the needs of the surrounding community. The program calls for the design of a complex of facilities, both for public and private, for a mixture of commercial, residential, office, cultural and recreational uses. This complex strives to emerge as an integrated collection of buildings and spaces, expressing clearly the nature of the purposes they serve. Responding to the nearby water, providing year-round use of public indoor and outdoor spaces and orientation for pedestrian and vehicular access from the entire town area are important considerations.

Image is an important issue, especially for a growing community. The town center rapidly becomes a symbol to reflect the changes which prosperity brings. The people of the community identify the town center with themselves, whereas the others identify them with it. The needs of the community change as the town grows along in time. The town center has to respond to this growth and expand to accommodate these additional demands. It has to be dynamic and adapt to varying functional and dimensional changes which might be expected at a future date.

The water in constant motion, the vastness of the river and the fluttering sails in the wind, all have a unique vocabulary of their own. A delicate web of cables supporting a shimmering envelope which sprawls over the land and water in a rhythmic geometry, is in total harmony with its sensuous surroundings. Use of the marina in the town center adds to the overall experience of liveliness and gaiety. The roof sails over, like an umbrella encompassing all functions creating its own interior climate, conducive to activity and blending the fragments into a complete fabric.

The need was for an unobstructed space which could function for the multi-faceted activities of the town center. Potential for growth was mandatory and standardization was necessary for the overall economy of the structure. A cable supported external envelope provides a protective shell for activities under a column free space. The space frame roof and floors further strengthen the structural independence of the various elements providing greater flexibility of spaces. The lightness of the structure is enhanced by the slim pylons and the metallic and transparent surfaces. Besides having the advantage of erection speed, the structure can be easily modified and built in stages according to the changing needs.