Silo City means something different to each and every one of us. For some, Silo City is a place of ruins, where the memories of our industrial past haunt us. For others, Silo City is a place of wonderment and opportunity - a place that has yet to take shape, and holds untold glory for the future of Buffalo.
As for the prior group, talk is cheap and a hundred events
is not enough to sway their opinions (also see Energy Weave
). Without showing signs of progress in the form of development, the programming at Silo City is pure folly. Whether you're a naysayer or a believer, it is of interest that one minor development may be the catalyst for further large scale investment. In other words, a spark has finally led to a small flame. At the entrance of Silo City, situated along Ohio Street, sits an abandoned freight house/transfer station that, for years, I thought would make the most incredible cafe or restaurant. Unfortunately, in the back of my mind I had an inkling that the structure would not be long for this world and would suffer the fate of a premature demolition due to its close proximity to passersby whom many, I presumed, saw it as an eyesore.
Fortunately I was wrong about the freight house. Rather than seeing it knocked down (or allowed to further decay), Rick Smith, owner of Rigidized Metals
, has decided to retrofit the structure. To do so, he has retained the services of HD Systems
, located in Brooklyn NY, to convert the building into a Rigidized Metals showroom and outdoor public pavilion. The idea behind the move is to showcase the Rigidized products in a way that architects and developers could see firsthand the various application methods of the materials. From floor to ceiling, the freight house will become a practical, gleaming billboard for Rigidized Metals. At the same time, the public will be able to interact with the building in myriad manners. This will become an energized performance venue and intimate gathering place. New non-slip Rigidized materials are being invented so that the floor decking will be rough enough to walk on. The metal hanging walls will seamlessly interact with the various glimmering folds and bends that will ultimately transition into a functional yet whimsical roofing element (form follows function). It is the intention of HD Systems to create a utilitarian sculpture out of the old freight house, and believe it or not, work is already underway.
The location of The Transfer Station is integral to the success of the project. Not only is the backdrop that of the grain silos, the connectivity of the property is key. "The Freight House is about Ohio Street the threshold to the City of Buffalo, and Rigidized Metals Corporation the industry leader in Metal Fabrication," said William Haskas of HD Systems. "The scale of the project ranges between the large and small by linking Ohio Street, Rigidized Metals, Silo City, the Outer Harbor, Route 5 highway, and the everyday user to the improvements that are happening along the Buffalo River. Soon people will be able to pause a moment and meet friends at the Freight House while exploring Buffalo's architecture."
For anyone wondering how a Brooklyn design company came to team up with Rigidized along the Buffalo River, William explained that he and "Rick Smith first met while working a concept for Rigidized Metals' office many moons ago. Recently while working with FXFOWLE architects, I was able to bring Rigidized on board for a massive redesign of Javits Center in New York. After months of research and design, the only manufacturer/ fabricator that understood, and was able to deliver was Rigidized Metals - if you go the Javits Center today you will see their product. It was the Javits project that galvanized the relationship. We continued the design discussion after Javits, and having family in the southtowns we've had an excuse to visit."
So there you have it. Connections to Buffalo. Urban connectivity. A connection between like-minded thinkers and doers. The transfer station is the first sign of substantial progress within the footprint of Silo City. While it may not be one of the elevators that is being converted into a modern functioning structure, the effort is being recognized as a major step in helping to position Ohio Street as an integral destination, corridor and gateway into Buffalo. Ultimately that could help developers to take further steps when it comes to investing in Silo City.