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The Parking Ramp Quandary Resurfaces

Every once in a while, we send out a reminder to our readers that parking ramps don’t need to be ugly. In fact, they can be quite appealing, even artistic. Unfortunately, in Buffalo, we are left with some real turds when it comes to parking structures. That’s because most developers/cities look at the structures as completely utilitarian. They don’t stop and think about the opportunities to create something that is thoughtful and inspiration. Instead, they just want to get the job done and move on.

Parking ramp at E. Mohawk and Ellicott

The saddest thing about parking ramps in Buffalo is the historic buildings that they replaced. Instead of architectural beauty, we are left with giant banal structures that do nothing to inspire people. They disrupt neighborhoods almost everywhere they are built. It wasn’t until Delaware North built its headquarters on Chippewa that we saw an effort to create a parking structure that was anything but obtrusive. The corner of Elmwood and Chippewa could have followed suit, but instead there are storefronts and an attractive screen that obscure the parking ramp (see here).

As a parking lot wears out its welcome in the future, is there a chance to convert it to residential? What are the other possibilities?

Unfortunately, what’s been done is done, and this city is left with some really ugly car-oriented structures. Then again, maybe there are some things that we can do to rectify some of the problems. Of course, these days we can expect and even demand that parking structures are built to be aesthetically pleasing, but what do we do with the old eyesores? Public art is always a welcome way to mask architectural blunders. Take a look at the parking ramp in the video below, and see the way that it commands respect via a very simplistic artistic touch.

To see more incredible ideas for parking structures, visit The City should start thinking of ways to turn our outdated foreboding parking structures into eye-catching, spiritually uplifting landmarks. It’s not very hard to do. Now that we are finally pushing for more high profile art in the public realm, we should be looking at our garish parking structures as blank canvases, by incorporating texture, color and LED lighting.

Dated parking structures in the city of Buffalo could be converted from oppressive negatives to wondrous positives. Someone needs to lead the charge.

Lead image: Scott MacDonald, Hedrich Blessing

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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