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My Favorite Buildings: Flat Top

I have been writing these “My favorite Buildings” stories to highlight the lesser known buildings in Buffalo’s tremendous collection of architecture.  The media focus on Buffalo architecture is typically quite shallow and tends to be shined on just a few major landmarks. The result is that too many people tend to think that Buffalo’s architectural riches begin and end with the Richardson designed State Hospital or the Albright Knox Gallery etc.  For this reason you won’t find like likes of City Hall in this series.  There are just too many others that we need to cherish. This odd West Side apartment building is about as far from being Buffalo City Hall as you can get and it is one of my favorites.  Visually it is somewhat of a stump of a building but I find it very compelling.

It is located on the West SIde at Albany and  School Streets.  You might surmise that its odd look is due to the removal of its roof peaks and gables.  On my Facebook page some suggested that perhaps it lost its roof in a long ago fire.  Looking at it on Google my impression is that this building always had a flat roof. On Google you can see that it has a parapet which is what makes me think this is the original roof profile. It is in a part of town where people built proudly but not necessarily with the most refined high brow architecture so its shape and proportions are not the most sophisticated.  But buildings don’t need to be sophisticated to be lovable. I think the building gets much of its oddness because so much other detail has been stripped away over the years.  I would bet that there was once a detailed cornice at the top.  I think there was probably a large ornate porch or maybe two porches as there are two main entries.  The surface of the building was likely a combination of textures and color rendered in shingles, clapboard, and carvings. Now the building is covered with a combination of flat dull siding.  From Google it is apparent that this building is well cared for.  It is neat and tidy with flower pots making for a cozy spot that appears to be owner occupied.   Even with so many “improvements” over the years the beauty of this ordinary city building shines through.


Written by David Steele

David Steele

Architect ( a real one, not just the armchair type), author of "Buffalo, Architecture in the American Forgotten Land" ( ), lover of great spaces, hater of sprawl and waste,
advocate for a better way of doing things.

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