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Mr. Architecture: Chuck LaChiusa

After teaching English at City Honors High school for 26 years, Chuck LaChiusa is enjoying a second career as a tour guide and speaker, an outgrowth of his 11-year-old hobby involving the study of Architecture.
Around 1995, LaChiusa and his wife Nancy attended a meeting of the Erie County Preservation Coalition, and he raised his hand when they called for a photographer to begin documenting the architecture in and around Erie County. “I was hooked immediately,” LaChiusa said. Starting with photos of a few buildings, his collection grew and grew.
“I started with photos, but then I got involved with vocabulary and history,” LaChiusa said. Starting with a rudimentary knowledge of computers that was cultivated as a result of a grant to City Honors from poet Robert Creely, LaChiusa maintained a site for his students to publish poetry. “I learned the mechanics of it there,” he said. His burgeoning architectural website is a far cry from those meager beginnings.
LaChiusa said he and his wife take vacations with architecture in mind. “We try to visit buildings in and out of the United States in order to connect world-wide architecture with Buffalo. The more I see, the more I think that the whole world’s architecture was a prelude to Buffalo.” Links to most of these out-of-Buffalo buildings can be found on LaChiusa’s website.
“I also have an affection for well-designed furniture. A lot of the terminology used to describe elements and details of architecture is the same for furniture,” LaChiusa says in reference to his site’s furniture link. “I’m continually photographing more, giving more tours and lectures.”
As an aside, LaChiusa shares a story, a thought he’s had, “I grew up in a house on Linwood and Lafayette, that was demolished when the hospital was built there. My next-door neighbor was Austin Fox, who was one of the earliest preservationists. He also taught English at Nichols, and it didn’t click until I spoke about his work at Nichols’ 50th anniversary.” LaChiusa may not have known his neighbor, but what they share is unmistakable.
Already the photographer of the book, Oakland Place, Gracious Living in Buffalo, LaChiusa is looking to publish a field guide of his architectural vocabulary. You can see all of LaChiusa’s work at www.ah.bfn.org.

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