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Big Reveal: Explore & More Children’s Museum

The Buffalo Planning Board will be reviewing plans for the new Explore & More Children’s Museum at its meeting this afternoon. The 43,000 sq.ft., four-story building will be located on the South Aud Block of Canalside.

Fontanese Folts Aubrecht Ernst Architects designed the complex. It will feature brick and stone veneer, stone headers, stone veneer, composite metals, and sunshades, and a mix of curtain wall and aluminum clad windows.

Work on the $27 million project is expected to start this spring and be completed late next year.

Written by Buffalo Rising

Buffalo Rising

Sometimes the authors at Buffalo Rising work on collaborative efforts in order to cover various events and stories. These posts can not be attributed to one single author, as it is a combined effort. Often times a formation of a post gets started by one writer and passed along to one or more writers before completion. At times there are author attributions at the end of one of these posts. Other times, “Buffalo Rising” is simply offered up as the creator of the article. In either case, the writing is original to Buffalo Rising.

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  • Josh Robinson

    Looks much better than I was expecting based on the placeholder design. Very glad they revised it so that it doesn’t block the truss bridge, but rather allows pedestrian traffic to flow through it. Let’s get it built!

    • townline

      It does block the bridge. You have to jog around the building, out of the site and back in to get to the other side of Lake Street.

    • nyc_lines

      It blocks it. it’s just notched back but you will no longer be be able to cross the bridge to connect through the site.

      • Can you pass through it?

        It’s a failure if you can’t.

  • Joe Dotterweich

    good stuff. wtf took so long?… and wtf is taking so long for everything else? is it the combination of taking down the skyway and possible train station?

    those blocked out windows though…

  • laldm109

    Why is there a mutant cyclops eye in the middle of the brick buildings?

  • townline

    Ladies and gentlemen – behold the world’s most expensive children’s museum entrance – built right on top of lake street. So just a couple of short years ago, they spent millions to build this bridge over the canals, only to have it dead end at a building… To accommodate a tenant that will pay $1/year in rent and generate zero property taxes…. Great long-term planning right there!

    • Chris Schmidt

      There’s a notch where the bridge lands and the building straddles that pedestrian path/turn

      • townline

        Right. Dead ending Lake Street and forcing pedestrians to exit the site, jog around the building to Scott and re-enter the ROW on the other side of the building.

  • breckenridge

    If your kids were 7 when this was announced, they’ll be too old by the time its completed. They might as well hold out for Hofbrauhaus now!

    • Good thing mine aren’t going to be born until 2018. Gives the museum a chance to evolve, since the first year is usually a little rocky.

    • Jonnno

      You mean their grandkids !

    • Bradley J. Bethel Jr.

      This alone is why putting the new train station at Canalside would be a bad idea. It’s just going to get backed up like all the other cornerstone proposals for the district.

    • mightyNiagara

      it is my understanding that Hofbrauhaus has passed up the opportunity leaving a steak house to move in for the available parcel to build.

  • Matthew Ricchiazzi

    You know where a Children’s Museum WOULD make ECONOMIC sense?

    • Matthew Ricchiazzi
      • Matthew Ricchiazzi
        • Matthew Ricchiazzi

          The market that exists in the Falls will always dwarf Canalside attendance. And, who among us locally is likely to attend a children’s museum?

          Is it so controversial to suggest putting the tourist attractions where the tourists are?

          • Chris Ostrander

            Does the Ricchiazzi Museum of Modern Art only feature works created in MS Paint?

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            I can hang comic book covers and the location is such that I will turn a profit.

          • eagercolin

            Every moment you waste here postpones your eventual massive success! Go make it happen, you extremely important person!

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            The project is in the works and will happen whether or not I’m conversing with you fine folks.

          • eagercolin

            That’s very exciting! Everything Frank parlato touches turns to gold!

          • eagercolin

            He hasn’t saved Artvoice. That much is clear from reading it.

            Speaking of Cuomo, did he ever end up being indicted on a Saturday?

          • Josh Robinson

            Lol “saved Artvoice” – is that why they laid off most of their staff and have Jamie Moses complaining to Carl Paladino about being overworked? It’ll be shuttered in a year.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            He did save Artvoice. It would have closed a year and a half ago if he hadn’t stepped in to help Jamie (when nobody else would). I have been trying to persuade Frank to shut down Artvoice for the last ten months. I think he will, eventually. He should merge all of his platforms (South Buffalo News, Lackawanna Front Page, Niagara Falls Reporter, and Artvoice) into a single regional newspaper. Let’s call it, The Buffalo Tribune. His friendship with Jamie Moses has really clouded his business sense over the last year. He has spent nearly $300,000 allow Jamie to jerk off for a year and half.

          • Johnny Pizza

            “The 19-count indictment charges Parlato, a well-known real estate developer turned newspaper publisher, with fraud, money laundering and conspiracy and claims he orchestrated a scheme that involved 15 shell companies, 50 bank accounts and multiple attorney trust accounts.”

            Yeah, he sounds like a real upstanding member of society.

          • Josh Robinson

            Like I said…Parlato’s paid cheerleader and apologist. I love how you link to the Buffalo Chronicle website you write for as if it is a legitimate source of news.

          • S Mills

            Who among us locally is likely to attend a children’s museum? Oh, I don’t know, the same people who already fucking have.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            Then it should stay in East Aurora with its nominal audience and save the taxpayers money. Canalside is the most valuable in demand real estate in the region. A children’s museum DETRACTS real, unsubsidized neighborhood that is thirsting to emerge.

          • mikmo323

            We all wish you would just go away but at the very least can you fix your spelling errors if you insist on slapping these graphics everywhere?

            I mean seriously how can we take you seriously…

            Oh wait… no one does…

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            Why do you hate me so much? What have I done to you? Is offering overly ambitious, sometimes zany ideas about the socio-spatial development of my city offense? Still haven’t figured out all this anti-me hate.

          • mikmo323

            There’s no hate here. I just strongly dislike your spam in the feeds of every article that you believe relates to your ambitions. Have BR post an article written by you (which you have done in that past), but don’t post the same ridiculous pictures repeatedly week after week.

            There’s nothing wrong with having ideas and ambitions but when you jam them down peoples throats when they are unwanted you become a target..

          • Mr. B

            “Fine Dinning”

            Odd how there would be a food court below three levels of “dinning” AND a steakhouse — in what is supposedly a Museum of Modern Art . . .


          • JKR

            its all too small.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            The property is already used as a tourist welcome center and the first two floors are dedicated to a food court, retail space, and a theater. It employs over 100 people. Floors 3 through 9 are available for redevelopment. The upper floor plates have 360-degree views of the falls and the gorge and would make for incredible restaurant spaces.

          • eagercolin

            “Floors 3 through 9 are available for redevelopment.”

            Which is to say, they’re empty because the building sits in Niagara Falls and is owned by crooks.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            They are empty because the right tenants/uses have not been identified, and the ownership group has been disinclined to partner with Empire State Development. The building had been taken from a hole in the ground to accommodating more 18 separate locally owned, owner-operated businesses, in addition to another 8-10 seasonal vendors operating outside — and that was done without using a dime of public money. No other developers in the area have been willing to created 100 local jobs without government support. So, perhaps, rather that your elitist anti-Italian racism (engrained the spirit of your comment), you should appreciate the contribution and accomplishment of the project.

        • WeAreTheNormal

          Matt, I won’t poo poo your ideas as much as I disagree with them, but here is something to consider: I have been to several art galleries, and I cannot recall any of them having something bigger than a cafe.

          Art is, as you well know, extremely valuable, and is at risk when there are ovens, fryers, etc. above and below it. Plus, all that artwork runs the risk of smelling of fried food, Asian food, and–God forbid–Indian food. I would imagine that is why most art galleries I have visited have visited serve nothing more than salads and sandwiches.

          Just wanted to offer up some constructive feeback that is void of any personal attacks (which seems almost impossible on the internet these days). Cheers!

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            Thank you for your very civil feedback.

            Your concern is legitimate. Any buildout of the space would require separate entrance/exit atriums, separate HVAC systems, and temperature controls.

            The largest operating expense will be insurance on the art.

      • Alex

        I’m not familiar with this rendering or where it would be located. Can you let me know?

        • Matthew Ricchiazzi

          The One Niagara Center is located in downtown Niagara Falls immediately adjacent to the state park. It is a 9 story structure, and floors 3 through 9 are available for redevelopment.

          The ownership group of One Niagara (Gordon Reger, Paul Grenga, Frank Parlato) is willing to finance the buildout of an art gallery space.

          I have been calling on Albright Knox to open an expansion site at Niagara Falls (where they will likely yield an attendance over 2 million annually), representing an enormous opportunity for revenue growth.

          It would require no capital investment on the part of AKG. All they have to do is sign a lease and hang up some art. Then let the money start rolling in….

          It’s probably better that the AKG has such prissy sensibilities and is consumed with their current expansion plan. The gallery can be built with any tenant.

          • Josh Robinson

            I don’t know how you managed to tie in your AKG bullshit into an article about Explore and More, but you did. Stop being Frank Parlato’s paid cheerleader.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            I’m fine having a conversation on the merits of an issue, but let’s not be petty and personal.

          • Andy Wulf
          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            You have always been a jerk to me online, and have gone out of your way to be mean to me. I don’t apologize. (Looks like you could still use that salad, in fact). And if there was something meaner I could say, I would say it — because that’s what you’ve done to me.

          • Andy Wulf
          • Andy Wulf

            I wouldn’t go for the jugular if you weren’t known for playing dirty yourself, like that Mark Grisanti business a few years back. Internet comment threads can be a rough and tumble place; you of all people know that, Matt. Put your big boy pants on, bring something to the table that’s actually a good and plausible idea, and maybe you’ll fare better than you’ve fared.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            It was far more than a few years back. I forwarded a funny email. Get over it.

          • eagercolin

            I’m sure there are plenty of folks in NF who have huge collections of world class art. After all, it’s a really great city, and totally not a corrupt and polluted shit hole. No need to bother with the AK, then.

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            If AKG doesn’t want to be involved, their loss. This gallery space has the potential to generate $15-30 million in revenue annually. I can buy my own art with an operating budget like that.

          • eagercolin

            Sounds like a great plan! You should stop wasting your time here and get cracking on it!

          • Matthew Ricchiazzi

            I am. Wish me luck!

      • mightyNiagara

        king of terrible ms/google sketchup drawings, as well as suggested locations

  • Todd Chapple

    This looks great, I must say! Finally some major development happening on the Aud Block! Now let’s put a fresh water aquarium at the center, then sprinkle in a few trendy retailers & local flavor eateries/brewery around Canalside etc.!

  • Alex

    How will this look from the water?

    I understand its a historic area, but to build something this bulky and uninviting right next to a waterfront in the middle of a transformation doesn’t appeal to me. It looks like a factory, which is fine, but I don’t think this industrial design fits the intended use very well. This appeals to old guys and stodgy architects, not to children. Children need light and this designs seems like it will dark and institutional in the inside.

    I would like to see more transparency, lighter materials, windows not bricked up. Claustrophobic was my first impression.

    [I don’t understand the bricked up windows either.]

    • BeatHarvard

      Interesting perspective. I’m a big supporter of historic-looking buildings around Canalside but I do see your point about how it’s a underwhelming as a waterfront property.

      I don’t think this will matter to the kids though, as long as the inside looks cool and it gets enough light (I honestly do not believe those bricked-windows are part of the intended design), they will love it.

      • OldFirstWard

        Kids come to play, the adults admire and respect the architecture.

      • Alex

        Still not a fan of the proposed design, but this visual offers some insight to what influenced to the design.

        Thanks for sharing

    • OldFirstWard

      $27 Million for a building with a thin brick veneer facade? How is that different than building fake canal slips? The City of Buffalo owes it to the men who built the original buildings and canals down there to put up scaffolding and construct the building with solid brick. Pay ten masons up to $50 per hour and within two weeks at most, the entire building would be completed with solid brick for less than fifty thousand dollars. How about using salvaged brick on the front facade? I also agree that bricked in windows looks ridiculous.

      How about adding pitched roofs for even more authenticity. It’s a good start but more details are needed. How about some closeups of the exterior details and facade entryways.

      • Alex

        All valid points.

        If the design needs to follow historic buildings, then at least make it accurate.

        Salvaged brick would look great and more importantly, it would prove that Buffalo promotes sustainable development. This is being done in so many other cities – why is this city lagging behind?

      • eagercolin

        “Pay ten masons up to $50 per hour and within two weeks at most, the entire building would be completed with solid brick for less than fifty thousand dollars.”

        Yes, this is how much it costs to put up a building! You clearly know what you’re talking about!

  • Good news? It’s finally a brick & mortar building. Bad news? It doesn’t resemble the original design.

    The original design was kind of bland but had a lot of open windows. I think the more appealing part was the walkway past the bridge.

    This updated design has less windows, has a staggered design (which is a plus), and extra space used. Both had their positives. I just hope there’s space for either retail or restaurant in this building, because it doesn’t appear there’s another brick & mortar building in the planning stages for the near future.

    • In the PDF documents they do have a mystery building on the east parcel adjacent to this. But yeah, I doubt we’ll be seeing that anytime soon, which is unfortunate because there’s no rule saying you can’t work on 2+ projects at once like the ECHDC would like you to believe.

      • mikmo323

        I won’t hold my breathe but I am really hoping that they start releasing some RFPs.. Maybe re-release the RFP for the adjoining three lots (plus hopefully the city releases an RFP for one of the lots across Marine Dr)

        • Matthew Ricchiazzi

          RFPs could/should be issued for the parcels on the west side of Erie Street as well (currently parking lots owned by the Buffalo Urban Development Corporation).

          • mikmo323

            I totally agree they need to fill that entire area. However, I don’t think they’ll start releasing RFP’s in that area until they straighten out Erie Street. I’d like to see them work there way from main st and then move west.

          • JKR

            infill.. with some high rise office buildings.

          • MWood

            They must lease that as parking for the offices of PB, Turner and Bergman Associates, no?

      • Chris Ostrander

        See I thought this smaller building was originally tabbed for the parcel the museum now lives on. I’d need to go back and look at WCPs original post when they released this particular version but I thought this was to be for the 3 building plan with Explore and More at the corner of Maine and Marine Drive. Although I guess they still have accommodated for 3 buildings with this new site plan, they just shifted stuff around.

        Edit: Found it.

  • Bludog

    I like the renderings

    • BeatHarvard

      If it’s crowded that’s probably the best problem they could have

  • I like the project, I do.

    However, IMO, the overall Canalside site plan is too blocky and does not allow for smaller businesses/tenants to move in. So what I would hope doesn’t happen is that we get 10-20k sq. ft. businesses opening rather than 500-5k sq. ft ones, like in the historic map.

  • Doug Wallis

    Would have liked something closer to the Spaulding Mercantile with big Georgian windows that lend themselves well to flex space (museum, office, retail, etc). But its close to period and it blends so not worth criticizing. I wonder when the Statler will come on-line and Seneca Tower will get redone. I bet the Statler continues to stall and the Seneca Tower gets done before the Statler.

    • That’s what I’m thinking as well.

  • Flyguy2pt0

    New York Beer Project #2 would be a nice look/ add down here for one of these lots. Pretty solid old industrial looking structure they created in Lockport. Then again I fear the beer and wine markets are creating a large bubble for themselves. Trying to think of some other unique uses or emerging uses in demand in the future that could have success down there. Nice thing at least is you have a growing tourism base in that end of downtown.

  • InformedOne

    I believe FFAE is the Architect for the Core and Shell only not the TI associated with the Explore and More museum, which always presents challenges.

  • JKR

    can it be any taller?

    • eagercolin

      Yes, unless some sort of great bird decides to hover overhead during construction.

  • Dex

    I’ve said it in other threads about Explore and More at Canalside, but I think that this is the right idea in the wrong location. They are being given what I consider to be the best location along the faux canals. My vision of the best activities along the canals are shops, restaurants and bars with outdoor seating, residential above. A nice cool place to hang out and have some food and drink and maybe listen to some live music.

    Explore and More would be just as successful a draw if built on one of the parcels that are not directly along the canal. While I’m happy to see some sort of development along what I now see as a huge water feature in the middle of a field, I think this is a missed opportunity.

    Hofbrauhaus or the steak house a much better idea for this location, IMO

    • I agree with this, the parcel should really be developed with the intent of taking advantage of canal intersection. It’s a failure in that regard.

  • Johnny Pizza

    Oh now I see, I just had to read through the newspaper your write for to get the facts. THANKS!!
    This just in from the Johnny Pizza Tribune. The Buffalo Chronicle is a garbage publication.