Perforated Metal facade juxtaposed with traditional church towers in the background.

Chris Romano’s project Light/Station transformed an abandoned gas mart into a striking 1,545-square-foot design studio, green room and conference facility for Buffalo-based Torn Space, a critically acclaimed, avant-garde theater company.


Industry partner

Project team

Natalie Tan
Integrated Environments + Architecture, project architect

R&P Oak Hill
Construction manager

Jeannine Yager-Aiello
Yager Architectural Design Services, project manager

Brandon Stone
MArch 2017, design assistant

David Heaton
MArch 2017, design assistant

Date of completion


Light and history were core components of Romano’s design concept from the beginning.

“Light serves as the connective tissue for all the components of the façade. It’s a material. It’s a central element to the multi-layered façade, where the lighting is a layer behind the steel panels, which typically isn’t done because it’s risky,” says Romano, who designed the façade through his firm Studio NORTH Architecture.

During the day, light pours in from two sides through the more than 72,000 holes laser-precision drilled into the stainless steel panels that veil the building’s façade.

At night, an inversion occurs and light glows from within, identifying the structure’s presence in the surrounding neighborhood.

It was also important that the project contribute to the community. Torn Space founder Dan Shanahan says the new facility reflects the theater company’s commitment to the East Side’s Broadway/Fillmore corridor.

The former gas mart building is wrapped in deep-textured, perforated sheet metal panels, 3/64-inch thick, manufactured and fabricated by Buffalo’s Rigidized Metals, a key industrial partner of the School of Architecture and Planning.

Tiny holes drilled into each panel strategically capture or emit light, depending on the time of day. Romano and the Rigidized Metals team spent months experimenting with every aspect of the sheet metal, pushing boundaries with each iteration.

The team ran algorithms to generate the hole patterns that would be precision-cut into each piece of sheet metal, testing on smaller prototypes in order to get just the right size hole to allow light to pass through and create the desired effect




Published February 1, 2018 This content is archived.