The School of Architecture and Planning at The University of Buffalo has just released the latest in its series of books that they have dubbed “Buffalo Books”. The series includes several titles from the last 10 years or so which include records of scholarly study and the work of visiting guest lecturers. Recently, the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning has focused the book series on Buffalo’s own architectural treasures. The first 2 books in this group showcased Minoru Yamasaki’s M&T Bank and Gordon Bunshaft’s Knox wing of the Albright Knox Gallery. The newly released third publication of this pamphlet style book collection highlights the Eliel and Eero Saarinen designed Kleinhans Music Hall. This book builds on the School’s documentation of Buffalo’s under-recognized mid century architectural heritage, forming a collection that any comprehensive architectural library must include.
The new book and its predecessors are compact and minimalist in their approach to the material but are also packed with rare images, interesting comments, and intriguing relationships. For instance I had no idea that the design for the Hall included design of extensive custom furniture as well. Eliel and son Eero worked with Charles and Ray (then Kaiser) Eames to design several furniture pieces for the Hall including bent wood chairs for the Mary Seaton Room which were early experiments with bent wood technology. As a husband and wife design team, the Eames would go on to develop iconic bentwood furniture and other famous designs still produced to this day.
Kleinhans was the first major commission for the collaborative architectural team of father (Eliel) and son (Eero). Eero said that he grew up under his father’s drafting table. Kleinhans Music Hall is important as one of America’s greatest music halls but also marked a major transition point in American architecture. In this building you can see the mature hand of the master architect Eliel with its grounding in craft and materials. But also clearly apparent in its composition you can see the budding talent of the young Eero in the sweeping curves and dynamic gestures. Eero would soon go on to become one of the greatest architects of the 20th century. His works include the Gateway arch in St. Louis, the bird like TWA terminal in New York and many other influential buildings known throughout the world.
You can purchase the new book and the others through the the Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning website or by going to the school on the UB Main Street campus. Note, some of the publications are listed as ‘sold out’ but ask anyway. You never know if there are a few loose copies around and perhaps, if they see demand, they will decide on a second printing.
All images are from the book