It was back in 2016 that we first learned about the Buffalo Benches Project. At the time, students participating in the Small Built Works Studio (SBWS) at University at Buffalo were tasked with designing and building artistic benches that would add to the unique nature of the district. The benches would also provide an inspirational place for people to sit. After all, with so many developments being rolled out along the Buffalo River, there are more people walking around than ever.
SBWS is the brainchild of local architect and professor Brad Wales, who has been instructing his students to build artistic and architecturally significant small built works projects in the city – mainly in Allentown. Just the other day I passed one of the SBWS bus stop creations on the West Side, and could not believe how well the sculptural piece has withstood the test of time.
“This has been a long process, and we’re not done yet, but it is great to get some in the ground!!” said Wales. “I’d like to thank the many movers-and-shakers who need to pitch in to make a project like this become reality: First, thank you to all our individual donors who came forward from the community to sponsor benches to help invigorate their neighborhood. Thank you for your generosity and patience! And thanks to our major donors–Tom Saia and Iroquois Concrete; Rick Smith and Rigidized Metals; and, Sam Savarino and Savarino Companies. And thank you to the City of Buffalo officials who helped facilitate the project, including many departments.
Approximately 25 benches were made, including some that were sponsored by Savarino Companies, and some that will be installed at Silo City.
“We are currently working with the Arts Commission to finalize a Maintenance Plan and details of the dedication plaques. I’d also like to thank the Old First Ward Community Association for their vision in sponsoring and hosting this conceptual functional art project. The OFW is moving in quite a progressive direction, under dynamic new leadership, and we are honored to be a part of the resurgence. And last, but certainly not least, I would also like to thank the students for their amazing creativity and energy. Great job! Since 2001, Small Built Works Projects have been about bringing students together with the community for the mutual benefit of all involved, and to energize the City. That is our goal in the OFW.”
Now, this latest project is finally being installed in various locations around the Old First Ward. This project joins another of Wales’ acclaimed SBWS initiatives that has been making the rounds recently – the Sun_Food_Water affordable small housing concept.
To learn more about the Buffalo Benches Project, click here.
Lead image and video: Devin Chavanne | Featuring Aidan Woolsey, Wade Georgi, and Matt Ramsey the Old First Ward Community Association Board member