Published February 1, 2022
The 2021 senior architecture "Housing as Process" design studio focused on housing-led, mixed-use development programs that build on social capital in the community. It is the culminating studio of the BS in Architecture program, with the final review organized as a competition judged by a blind panel of jurors. The winning teams are each awarded a $2,500 prize.
The Fall 2021 Housing as Process studio was directed by UB associate professor of architecture Erkin Özay, with Nicholas Bruscia, Annette LeCuyer, Laura Lubniewski and Bradley Wales.
Students focused on the Iroquois Brewery site in East Buffalo. The building is owned by C&R Housing, an important contracting and workforce training outfit located here since the early 1980s. Students focused on housing with a mix of commercial and community uses for the existing industrial building and adjacent vacant site to the west.
Student Team: Lauren Herran and Abdulquddus Mohammad
Buffalo has always been known as “The City of Good Neighbors” because it has welcomed and provided a safe environment for many refugees and immigrants in the past. In the last 10 years, Buffalo’s population grew 6.5% due to an influx of incoming refugees and immigrants. PatchWork provides affordable housing for not only the residents currently located in East Buffalo but also aims to welcome newly incoming refugees and immigrants that are seeking housing, employment and overall a safe environment in which they could celebrate their culture and heritage. Due to refugees and immigrants' unique and varying situations, our goal was to prioritize adaptable spaces in order to meet their needs. This can be seen in the larger programs located on the ground floor such as the multi-use space that could be utilized as a market vendor space during the day or a venue used for celebrations during the night. Using a track system in our units allowed for them to be flexible so that refugees and immigrants can change the layout based on their preference or circumstances. Our goal is to accommodate the different family structures in refugees and immigrants while providing resources and support services in order for them to become successful, active and contributing members of the community.
Student Team: Alex Marchioli and Tom Stankowski
For our project, we created 8 corner stores in response to our client "Ellen" and her desire to generate more revenue through ground-level commercial spaces on the site. At the beginning of the semester, Ellen informed us that ground-floor commercial tenants were important for rental income and financing to make the overall adaptive reuse project viable.
In response to this, we maximized the number of street corners, as these spaces generated the highest rents. Along with that information, and with approval from our client, we proposed purchasing the cut-through from Hickory to Iroquois from the City. Through reading northwestern small blocks - the history and rationale behind a walkable urban model - we gathered research that showed the benefits of creating smaller block sizes. Creating smaller blocks helps improve visibility, accessibility, walkability, flexibility, parking advantages, and helps create commercial centers that generate more revenue. Longer city blocks make it extremely hard to get around as a pedestrian, while shorter blocks promote commerce and walkability. As a result, our team cut the current 1300’ block in half to increase the commercial success of the site.
In combining this information, our project proposed a Site Plan with eight true "corner stores"—including on-street parking in front of each store—with the intention that a small mini-commercial district could evolve over time. We also created housing that breaks the current north south massing orientation of Pratt, to an east-west orientation for a huge gain in south facade surfaces, giving us the opportunity to go off grid for heat in the winter in the residential units.
Student Team: Ben Coates and Antonio Vargas
GrowHub focuses on the production and distribution of fresh food in the Willert Park community through a trio of strategies. A grocery store on ground level of the existing Pratt building, an indoor hydroponic vertical farm on the second level, and greenhouses on the roof supply the produce in the grocery store as well as the community. The Hickory building is mostly dedicated to housing with an open air market on the ground floor.
Student Team: Christian Frank, Josh Reyes, Dylan Fiscus
Our project is centered around key points including the historical context of music within the community, the inclusion of four main spaces, and the structural preservation of the original 230 Pratt. At the beginning of the design process, we looked at the impact that music has had in the community more importantly the Black community. Jazz used to be prominent in the Buffalo scene and we hope to revitalize music within the community through collaborations with organizations such as the Buffalo Colored Musicians Club, located within the African American Heritage Corridor. The surrounding area is currently undergoing a major transformation at the moment. For example, the project hopes to harness the energy of the Broadway Theater, currently undergoing a restoration.
Student Team: Paige Kaminsky and Maddy Moore
Nexus is a flexible, phased, co-housing complex. We are building for people that are frequent visitors of the surrounding hospitals. We believe that co-housing will benefit this group since co-housing strengthens social infrastructure and provides an inclusive environment. Nexus offers shared spaces such as kitchens. lounges and dining areas. This encourages residents to socialize with others who may be in similar situations. The Pratt site consists of spaces that can change over time to fulfill the needs of the residents with whatever living requirements they may need. The flexible plan offers the possibility to go from a one bedroom unit to a two/three bedroom unit through phased construction. Moveable boxes are placed throughout the site to continue the emphasis on social interaction and flexibility.
Student Team: Julia Wade and Joey Tripi
Single mothers and seniors are two significant/prevalent demographics of the Pratt-Willert community. We wanted to create living and public spaces where these two groups can support each other symbiotically. Architecturally, we accomplish this through thoughtful sharing of things and spaces, fostering storytelling. In summary, our approach emphasizes an environment that uses various scales of connection and interaction to reactivate the existing Iroquois Brewery into an impactful multi-use affordable residential/commercial building.