Please join us on Friday, December 17, at the Niagara Falls Public Library (Earl W. Brydges Building) for the opening of the library’s new maker space and unveiling of “Caution Sails, an installation designed and fabricated by students at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.
Friday, December 17, 10:00 am
Niagara Falls Public Library, Earl W. Brydges Building
1425 Main Street
Niagara Falls, NY 14305
Consisting of thirteen perforated Dacron screens, the “Caution Sails” project was conceived as a design response to the library’s use of caution tape to cordon-off its western stacks (implemented in 2018 as a life safety measure due to the building’s heaving floors), for the purpose of contributing to a more positive overall image and experience of the building for its community.
The sails—in shape and color—complement the angular forms and accents of the building’s architecture, designed by Paul Rudolph. While limiting physical access to the stacks, the sails allow for visual porosity and the transmission of light through their shape, perforation, and materiality. Each can be easily mounted or removed, and rearranged to form a variety of overall rhythms and patterns down the length of the building’s main reading room.
Students will also unveil a detailed one-eighth-inch scale model of the building (representing its original form as constructed in 1974), to be displayed as a tool for better understanding its distinctive architecture and subsequent modifications.
Project Lead: John Lauder
Faculty: Gregory Delaney
Design Team: John Lauder, Brian Nicpon, Austin Wyles
Fabrication Team: Rocco Battista, Denice Guillermo, John Lauder, Katerina Nelson, Revathi Nithipalan, Nicole Stout, Cole Wishman
Additional Faculty: Brett Doster
Project Funding: Niagara Falls Public Library
Special Thanks & Support: Sarah Potwin, Courtney Geerhart, Niagara Falls Public Library Board of Trustees
About the Fall 2020 “Building Brydges” Studio:
From the years 1968–1977, Paul Rudolph saw the completion of three major projects in the Buffalo-Niagara region—all designed at the height of his career. In Buffalo, his Shoreline Apartments and Waterfront Community Facilities Complex were two key components to his larger waterfront redevelopment plan. Today, just 94 of the original 472 apartment units, and school remain. Just up the road in Niagara Falls sits the Earl W. Brydges Public Library. A cathedral for learning and social programming, the building is a heroic and monumental structure, embodying the expressive formal and material spirits characteristic of Rudolph’s architecture of the period—brought to life through an awe-inspiring loftiness and numinous use of light on its interior. Yet, for all of the building’s architectural merits and demonstrated value as an anchor for the surrounding community, a host of challenges—brought on by decades of disrepair, deferred maintenance, and civic neglect—test the building’s present, and threaten its future.
It was out of these concerns, and the desire to advocate for the building and its constituents, that a research and design studio was born, mobilizing the efforts of twelve Master of Architecture students and two faculty members at the University at Buffalo. Over the course of the Fall 2020 semester, the team worked in direct conversation with the library, community leaders, regional partners, and national organizations to better understand the building and its users. A series of informal, studio-wide conversations with stakeholder “discussants” offered a wide range of perspectives, with numerous additional contacts giving further guidance to the studio’s efforts.
Work began with the thorough research, documentation, and examination of the building’s history and present condition as a means to better understand not only its architecture, but the library’s value as critical social infrastructure. As such, a central goal for the studio was to expand conservation efforts around the building, in service to both its daily use and legacy. This work led to the development of a number of divergent "projects” that, while broad-ranging in scale and impact, all aimed to build a diverse coalition to more effectively promote the building’s preservation. Thus, the class challenged conventional notions of production in the context of the architecture design studio by prioritizing work that sought to advance architectural discourse in the public realm, and expand the agency of architecture student and studio through a series of broader, more-direct engagements with the building and its community.
“Building Brydges” Studio Credits:
ARC 605: Building Brydges, Fall 2020
Bill Bradberry, Underground Railroad Heritage Commission & Niagara Gazette (Niagara Falls, NY)
Sara Capen, Niagara Falls National Heritage Area &Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (Niagara Falls, NY)
Courtney Geerhart, Niagara Falls Public Library (Niagara Falls, NY)
Paul McDonnell, Buffalo Public Schools (Buffalo, NY)
Sarah Potwin, Niagara Falls Public Library (Niagara Falls, NY)
Seth Piccirillo, Buffalo Niagara Partnership (Buffalo, NY)
Samika Sullivan, Packard Court Community Center (Niagara Falls, NY)
Richard Wade, Niagara Falls Public Library (Niagara Falls, NY)
Liz Waytkus, Docomomo US (New York, NY)
Patrick Whalen, Niagara Global Tourism Institute (Niagara Falls, NY)
Tom Yots, Preservation Studios (Buffalo, NY)
James Bragg, City of Niagara Falls (Niagara Falls, NY)
Carl Calabrese, Masiello, Martucci, Calabrese & Associates (Buffalo, NY)
Barbara Campagna, Barbara A. Campagna/Architecture + Planning (Buffalo, NY)
Jason Clement, National Trust for Historic Preservation (Buffalo, NY)
Kelvin Dickinson, Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation (New York, NY)
Jessie Fisher, Preservation Buffalo Niagara (Buffalo, NY)
Chris Hawley, City of Buffalo (Buffalo, NY)
Bryan Lee, El Museo (Buffalo, NY)
Christiana Limniatis, Preservation Buffalo Niagara (Buffalo, NY)
Casey Milbrand, Casey Milbrand Design (Buffalo, NY)
Bernice Radle, Buffalove Development (Buffalo, NY)
Ally Spongr, Niagara Falls National Heritage Area & Niagara Falls Underground Railroad Heritage Center (Niagara Falls, NY)