In Buffalo, there are a few tragic buildings that were built with few to no windows for various reasons. Yes, it’s incredible to think that “modern design” in Buffalo reached a point where sprawling single-storey structures were built to solely “function”, with no thought of form (design, materials… windows)… even if some of the structures were originally built for now obsolete purposes. The Matt Urban Hope Center, located at the corner of Jefferson and Genesee is one such building. The structure was originally built as a warehouse, and today is used to house instrumental services for women and families who are hard on their luck.
If you stop to consider all of the things that Hope Center does for women who have been living on the streets with no place to call home, it’s a shame that the building that houses the services emits such an unwelcoming vibe.
Recently Hope Center teamed up with artist Amanda Hart to breath some needed life into the virtually windowless building. Not to say that additional improvements are not needed, but the simple gesture of adding artistic elements to an otherwise blank facade is a significant step in the right direction. “Hope Center is an effort to expand assistance for homeless families, with a range of services dedicated to helping homeless women recover from personal, physical and financial trauma,” Amanda wrote to me. “The service is a stepping stone for women who will ultimately move to stable, permanent housing. I was asked my Marlies Wesolowski, Executive Director of the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of W.N.Y. (oversees Hope Center), if I would be able to paint welcoming faux windows, since the building only has one window, as it was originally constructed as a warehouse. The windows depict happy home living and to give off a cheery air to the families who come to the center.”
Today window boxes have been added to the “sills” of the murals, creating a more welcoming arrival and departure point for visitors to the center. It took Amanda five weeks to complete the artwork for the shelter. “It’s been a very challenging project but the end result was worth it,” Amanda concluded. “The window murals are freehand and hand painted and measure 11 feet by 4 feet each. There are seven windows, including a children’s mural featuring kids playing hopscotch, double dutch and ring around the rosey near the playground. During this project I have had a lot of support from the staff and the neighborhood who all seem to immensely enjoy the people and animals sitting in the windows. I especially get a lot of comments about the cat named Jefferson that sits on the table with his paw in the fishbowl. The kids love the cat! Marlies even made a wonderful addition to the murals by adding real flower boxes underneath them.”
Learn more about Hope Center by visiting this Facebook page.