new activity downtown, right off the exit of the 33, near the old St. Louis
Cathedral. Nestled in between the old “Fruit Belt” neighborhood, dubbed by
immigrants of the early 20th century, and the business district of Downtown
Buffalo, the former M. Wile & Company Factory has become the UB Downtown Gateway, home to the University at
Buffalo Regional Institute and more.
The move is part of the “UB 2020” plan, an academic excellence and growth framework
that. in part, entails creating a third campus–the Downtown Campus–which is
made up of the health-related units, including the medical, nursing, and public
health schools. The school hopes to expand past the M. Wile building itself and
revitalize the area in general.
purchase of the M. Wile building was a step in the right direction. Bought in
2007, the third floor has been widely refurbished and blends old architecture
with new ideas.
Regional Institute wanted to be downtown to further its mission as a center
with “one foot in the academic world, and one foot in the policy world,”
according to Dr. Kathryn A. Foster, director of the Regional Institute. “Many
of the people here are interacting with the government, businesses, and civic
organizations,” she added. In that
light, it makes sense that the campus shares proximity with those established
from the hopes of giving the university more of a presence in the City of
Buffalo, UB’s involvement in the M. Wile building represents another investment
commitment to being a growing presence takes hold of the idea of renewing and
investing in Buffalo,” says Rachel Teaman, director of regional initiatives at
the Regional Institute.
represents a kind of realization of a vision, and hope,” agrees Foster.
and Teaman are part of a ten-person team that has been working in the M. Wile
building for all of 2-3 weeks. Even in such a short time, both enjoy the urban
atmosphere and associating with their coworkers closely.
left an old building in the south campus where we were all spread out,” states
remember the only time we would talk was when we were at the staircase at the
old building,” Foster says. “I see people now more than I ever used to during
the day. There is interaction all the time.”
M. Wile building itself is over 100 years old and was the creation of two
architects, Esenwein and Johnson, commissioned by Mayer Wile. Wile was a
clothing manufacturer, and the factory would be for the sewing and distributing
of men’s clothing. Unlike the cramped, dingy factories the era is known for,
the M. Wile Building was designed with several windows, in order to allow the
flow of air and daylight, so that its workers could find some comfort during
the long work hours.
partially occupied, the space is still in the process of being completely
refurbished. Old-style windows and cement towers within the building blend with
modern cubicles and office spaces, and bold shades of yellow and red spread
about, melding the times.
building is springing to life, perhaps helping to revitalize the city. It is
the first of many projects to come, and part of a greater project encompassing
all of downtown Buffalo: the sense of hope and new coming life returning to the
once sleeping city.
exciting to be a pioneer in a big effort,” Foster shares. “UB 2020 is huge.
It’s fun to be in on the beginning.”
Regional Institute will hold an open house for the public on Tuesday, December
15th from 4 to 6PM, at 77 Goodell Street, on the third floor. Foster will speak at 5, along with UB Executive
Vice President for University Support Services James A. Willis, and UB Law
School Vice Dean for Academic Affairs James A. Gardner.