On Friday, November 15, Dennis Maher (executive director of Assembly House 150) and his journeymen will be presenting an event like no other. In order to get a better grasp of the fundraiser, Maher invited me to take a closer look at the “Assemblage” of projects that are currently underway at the former church.
The tour started with a presentation of 3D models that had been created based on the city’s planning maps. From there we passed through myriad vignettes before coming to a room dedicated to auction items that had been donated from numerous regional artisans and builders – the incredible items ranged from original art to castings. Featured artisans and builders include Jim Cordes (Floyd East Furniture for Life), Swiatek Studios, Buffalo Architectural Casting, Steve Oubre, and Allan Wexler.
Maher continued to explain the vast and ever-changing surroundings as we drifted through the cavernous space. “This is an exercise in Victorian building,” he stated, as he pointed towards a wall of wood architectural creations. “Students are exploring basic building techniques within the building. We also have a lot of projects outside of the space, woven into training program that also serve as teaching exercises.”
A couple of the external projects that Maher is referring to are the PUSH porch on Normal Avenue, the Northland Pattern Wall, and a Mobile Children’s Library that is set up in an old camper (heading out on the road soon). All of these projects are designed to get people interested in building, and experiential hands-on learning.
Founded in 2016, AH150 is a revolutionary design and construction incubator, experiential learning center, exhibition space and event venue in Buffalo, New York.
A couple of interesting and relatively new projects that I came across within the space included a giant repurposing antique pipe organ with a built-in auditorium. The presentation space features stadium style seating and a cinema screen – guests are invited to literally sit inside the instrument as it plays. Next to that is a new “how to build” library, where instruction manuals are displayed within clever wooden compartments that were designed and built by the students – this project is a bit tongue and cheek, Maher explained. “These days everyone watches Youtube videos to learn how to construct things. We’ve been beautiful collecting instruction manuals for years, and now we’ve built a resource room to contain them. We even built a little hidden reading nook up the stairs [pointing]. It’s all part of the goal – if we can teach someone how to build basic framing and basic cabinet making, that can segue to fields associated with construction.”
It is my belief that in the near future, Assembly House 150 will be right up there with other regional cultural destinations such as The Albright-Knox and The Burchfield Penney Art Center – it will be a place that is considered a must visit due to its ever changing nature, its bent on education, its interactive elements, and its incredible visual appeal. The project also encompasses elements of preservation. In fact, the building itself is a teaching tool that demonstrates the artful process of stabilization.
Starting in spring of 2020 Maher plans on having formal open hours for Assembly House 150, upon which time the public will be able to readily access the building. At that time, there will also be plenty of on-site public programming, and additional opportunities to explore the urban learning laboratory that empowers people through creative action. This is why it is so important that as many people as possible attend the upcoming action.
“The auction includes first edition Buffalo-centric furniture pieces designed and built by our Assembly House team, including a Guaranty Building end table and a Grain Elevator inspired bench. In addition, we will also feature limited edition prints from the A.E. Minks Architectural Archive,” said Maher.
ASSEMBLAGE, its first-ever fundraiser, will take place Friday, November 15, 5:30 pm – 8 pm, 150 Edward Street, Buffalo. Festivities include wine, beer, hors d’oeuvres, the unexpected, silent & live auctions, and will feature innovative objects designed by artists and craftspeople. Tickets ($75 each, $125 patron), can be purchased online at www.assemblyhouse150.org.
Newell Nussbaumer met with Dennis Maher, founder of Assembly House 150, at his inspirational church of architecture and design.
BR60: Buffalo, 60 Seconds at a time.
Script + Voice: Newell Nussbaumer, DP + Editor: Devin Chavanne, Post: George Johnson