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Dramatic Design Evolution of former Immaculate Conception Church

Popularly known for the beautiful and famous Fargo House, architect Dennis Maher founded his latest brainchild project, Assembly House 150 in 2015. Assembly House is an experimental art and architecture space occupying the former Immaculate Conception Church. Teaming up with local partners and program participants, Assembly House 150 “focuses on the deign and construction of amazing environments.”

“We build creative spaces, furnishings and objects while hosting educational programs, exhibitions and events that engage overlapping issues in art, design, architecture, preservation and social justice,” Maher said.

The space is used as an immersive gallery and public forum. Exciting projects have been in the works. Maher said they have commissioned their first large-scale collaborative project this year, designed by John Zissovici, an artist and architecture professor at Cornell.

“The project consists of two towering structures that intersect within the transept of the church, forming a resource room for books, models and drawings, as well as a presentation space,” he said. Students from the Society for the Advancement of Construction-Related Arts (SACRA) have been collaborating and adding to the project.

Using the wood from the church, including its original lumber from the building, workshop and library tables have been constructed. Different projects, by Maher’s UB students, have been stationed throughout the exhibition space. Watts Architects and Engineers and eco_ Logic Studio have been assisting the project with the necessary architecture and engineering drawings.

Maher stated that Assembly House 150 is an extension of his artistic practice and work as an educator. “I believe that art/design/construction are intricately related fields. There are so many amazing opportunities to bring these disciplines together in order to enrich our shared experience of the built environment.”

Maher is a firm believer that the creation of a meaningful space must be equipped with participants who are meaningfully engaged in the process. Buildings serve as more than just structures, but as vehicles for learning, providing jobs, and as “catalysts for imagining and realizing outstanding places for the future—places within which all citizens can have a sense of belonging.”

Assembly House 150 is located at 150 Edward Street. Learn more about the space by checking out their website.

Written by Sara Ali

Sara Ali

Sara is a freelance writer living on Buffalo's West Side. She works full time in human services, part time in freelance, and is currently working towards her endeavor to create a nonprofit focused on telling the stories of the refugee and immigrant communities.

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