Lenses: Ways of Seeing Buffalo and Its Architecture is a new exhibit at the Lipsey Architecture Center that provides more inclusive ways of seeing place-based histories of the Buffalo community. It revisits the sites highlighted in two historical exhibitions curated by Henry-Russell Hitchcock at the Albright Knox Art Gallery—“Buffalo Architecture, 1816-1940” in 1940, which was restaged in conjunction with the publication of Buffalo Architecture: A Guide (1982)—to recover the historical contributions that women, people of color, and sexual minorities have made to Buffalo's East Side.
On display from Thursday, December 16, 2021 through Sunday, April 10, 2022 at The Lipsey Architecture Center Buffalo at the Richardson Olmsted Campus
Thursdays, 2–8 pm
Fridays–Saturdays, 10 am–4pm
Sundays, 12–4 pm
*Closed between Christmas Eve and New Year’s Day
The "Beyond Hitchcock" Wall of the Lenses exhibit represents a collaboration between Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Jessie Fisher and Charles L. Davis II, UB associate professor of architectural history and criticism. Davis engaged first-year Master of Architecture students in his Introduction to Architectural History course (ARC 531) to produce a series of "Ghost Maps" of the East Side. These maps range from cartographic studies of Black space to visual collages of canonical buildings radically transformed by the cultural norms of Black migrants moving to the city during the Great Migration.
The crowning achievement of this exhibit is a visual and textual "redaction" of three seminal chapters of Philip Johnson and Henry-Russell Hitchcock's exhibition catalog for the "International Style" exhibit held at the Museum of Modern Art in 1932. These new chapters provide architectural principles for appreciating the work of underrepresented groups in the city.
Students emulated the visual strategies of African American artist Alexandra Bell, who revised stereotypical media depictions of Black men in the news media to reimagine the central tenets of international style architecture for Black and Brown communities. Instead of pursuing a purely formalist approach to design, students explored the ways that Black modernity is constituted by a critical engagement with space and placemaking; strategies that precede but dramatically inform architectural formalism.