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A fresh look at The Richardson-Olmsted Complex

The board of the Richardson-Olmsted Complex was designed in 2006. Since that time, the board has been busy with planning measures, community involvement and coming up with reuse scenarios. The initial reuse, consisting of the hotel component with café, the architectural center and the event and conference space, is scheduled to be completed by early 2016. That’s an admirable timeframe seeing that we are approaching 2014.

A couple of days ago I met up with Monica Pellegrino Faix, Executive Director Richardson Center Corporation, who showed me around the exterior of the administration building while pointing out a series of (still in the works) renderings that depict the direction of the project. On the back side of the building (facing Buffalo State) the entranceway will look a bit different.


Instead of the 1918 brick add-on (the medina sandstone building was built in 1871), there will be a glass entranceway that will mimic the design of the brick structure that it is replacing.


Inside the entranceway will be a stairway that will take visitors to the main floor of the hotel lobby.


This was the easiest way to solve the conundrum that the corporation faced when they learned that the rear entranceway of the building was actually much lower that than the front entranceway (where hotel services will be located).


The original medina sandstone will be viewable through the glass entranceway in order to respect the architectural details of the building. Visitors will also be able to walk out on top of the new entranceway that will second as a patio.


The archways that create walkways from the front of the building to the rear will remain open to the public, creating a flow that will lead people from the park-like setting along Forest, through the building, and out towards the agrarian side of the building in back. That is also where the crux of the parking will be found, as well as roadways and walkways that will help to create access from Buffalo State, Elmwood Avenue and Grant Street.


The new hotel, to be operated by The Mansion on Delaware was actually able to make use of space that many thought to be impossible.

Insanely-beautiful-Buffalo-NY-1 Insanely-beautiful-Buffalo-NY-2

Seeing that the asylum rooms were way too small to accommodate guests, a number of walls are being leveled in order to create space. At the same time, there will be bump-outs into the massive hallways that will appear to look like armoires to the untrained eye (see above).


Moving back out to the exterior of the building, an ugly elevator shaft (added much later in the life of the asylum) will be removed, thankfully. The grounds continue to unfold nicely, with rain gardens and pedestrian bridges, walkways, benches, lighting and patio-like drop-off areas for visitors.

The design team is comprised of executive architect Flynn Battaglia Architects of Buffalo and design architect Deborah Berke Partners of New York. Additional members of the team include Boston-based historic preservation firm Goody Clancy; Andropogon Associates, a Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm; LP Ciminelli, a construction management firm from Buffalo.

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

Access-2-Buffalo-NY Access-Buffalo-plan

On Saturday, September 28, 2013, from 11am to 4pm, Buffalo’s newest green space in front of the complex will come alive with food trucks, live music, landscape tours, games and activities for the kids. Everyone is welcome to come and enjoy the fresh new landscape and meet friends and neighbors under the watchful eye of the two towers. Be sure to check out a number of floor plans at the bottom of this page.


I’ll have an update on some more of the work on the South Lawn grounds soon. In the meantime, here are some of the floor plans of the building.






















Written by queenseyes


Newell Nussbaumer is 'queenseyes' - Eyes of the Queen City and Founder of Buffalo Rising. Co-founder Elmwood Avenue Festival of the Arts. Co-founder Powder Keg Festival that built the world's largest ice maze (Guinness Book of World Records). Instigator behind Emerald Beach at the Erie Basin Marina. Co-created Flurrious! winter festival. Co-creator of Rusty Chain Beer. Instigator behind Saturday Artisan Market (SAM) at Canalside, Buffalo Porchfest, and Paint vs. Paint. Founder of The Peddler retro and vintage market on Elmwood. Instigator behind Liberty Hound @ Canalside. Throws The Witches Ball at Statler City, the Hertel Alley Street Art Festival, and The Flutterby Festival.

Contact Newell Nussbaumer |

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