Earlier today I got a chance to view a design proposal for the expansion of Buffalo Public Schools’ North Park Academy (School 66) in North Buffalo, just off Hertel. The design work, submitted by the team of asap/ adam sokol architecture practice pllc, is just what this city needs to become architecturally significant once again.
Although historic, School 66 is pretty bland when it comes to design. It sits on a triangular plot of land, which lends itself to the creation of something modern and dramatic – something that is not only practical, but is also imaginative. The design that we are seeing here was not chosen as one of the project finalists, which is unfortunate. I admit that I have not seen the other designs, but I can pretty much bet that they are not as forward thinking and inspirational as what we are viewing here.
I would imagine that the final design will blend into the existing school and the neighborhood. Does everything have to blend into historic surroundings in Buffalo, or will we start to see some bold and refreshing architecture built, similar to what we are seeing in other cities? When I look at this proposal, I see something that is exciting and fun – something that I would be proud to have in this city. Unfortunately, when it comes to public funding, there is little input from the public, which is unfortunate because we’re losing the architectural battle left and right.
This particular design was probably deemed “too cool for school”, thus will never see the light of day. Instead we will probably see something of mediocrity built, which will be functional, but will never be considered visionary. It will probably fade into obscurity, much as other modern day architecture does in this city. There was a day when great architects built great works in Buffalo. Why are we not demanding better? As Buffalo continues to rise up, so too should our design standards. This is the type of architectural pursuit that we should get behind, or we will continue to fall behind.
We need to get our architecture act together asap. It’s time to rethink what architecture means to Buffalo. It’s time to elevate our architectural standards.