I’ve always been a big fan of architect Adam Sokol’s (ASAP) work, and 15 Allen Street is no exception. This project – Allentown II Apartments – is a breath of fresh air for Allentown. It’s also perfectly situated across the way from the Medical Campus. Once complete, the building will contain ten apartments and ground floor commercial space. Huamei Wang is developing the building.
“We started working on this project back in 2017,” said Sokol. “It was held up getting approvals, partial demolition, asbestos, salvaging materials, a change in contractors… and the pandemic. Essentially, what we’re looking at here is two buildings that have been combined together, with a landscaped courtyard (coming soon) in the back.
We initially worked on 19 Allen in 2015, when ASAP offices were on the ground floor. Now we’re in the midst of completing 15 Allen – the City wanted us to keep the facade of the building, using the original stones and bricks, etc. We needed to reuse those elements to get through the Preservation Board.”
Sokol told me that he is especially pleased with all of the outdoor spaces, and doesn’t think that architects and developers in Buffalo do enough to accommodate tenants when it comes to accessing outdoor amenities.
“People want to sit outside,” said Sokol. “Buffalo is a city where people want to socialize indoors and outdoors. The tenants here have both private and communal outdoor spaces, with nice views. There are two ground level ADA accessible apartments, a bicycle room with dedicated bike racks, private balconies, lofted units, apartments with flex space… it’s modern and bright, with a vaulting skylight that floods the building with natural light.”
The apartments are pretty fantastic, just as Sokol described them. Although they are clean and modern, there are also softening touches, such as floors that feel as if they are slightly cushioned, and noise dampening components that make it especially quiet. The lighting fixtures are also sleek, which goes a long way. One of the overhead lighting contraptions can be moved about the apartment, and hung on various hooks to alter the lightscape. I’ve never seen that before – it’s pretty ingenious.
Another interesting design element is the tapered staircase that leads upwards for two stories. It’s almost an optical illusion… it’s beautifully done, especially with focal point skylight at the top. Sokol used all of the unusual building angles to his advantage – there are very few right angles to be found.
Aside from the ten apartments (singles and doubles), there’s a dynamic 1400 SF retail space that will soon be available (for anyone who might be interested. Per Green Code, half of the retail space has 15 foot tall ceilings – an effect that is rather dramatic. Sokol pointed out the Glued Laminated Wood (Glulam) beams and pillars that they installed (instead of steel). Once again these types of exposed wood accents are unlike anything that I’ve come across in Buffalo.
This new retail space is actually the result of joining together two smaller commercial storefronts – there will be an all-glass frontage installed in coming days. All in all, it’s going to be an incredible retail or café space when complete. It turns out that this section of Allen Street could use a café because Cafeology closed during the pandemic, which is unfortunate.
It’s easy to tell that Sokol is proud of this building. He’s especially happy that the corners were not cut due to value engineering.
“I couldn’t believe that we got to keep the skylight,” he told me. “But when you’re putting in a couple of million dollars into a project, that’s not going to make or break the deal. I’m also happy to say that this building is all electric, with no natural gas. Progressive cities are phasing out natural gas. We can also add solar panels down the road, if the owner wants.
“And all of the outdoor spaces, once again, is going to be a great selling point. Buffalo is no longer as cold as it used to be. People want to be outdoors, and this is a great neighborhood to view the street, the buildings, and then there’s the courtyard. I think people are really going to love living here, because it’s so different.”
The project should wrap up in October.
Get connected: Allen Apartments II
- Architect: Adam Sokol Architecture Practice
- Structural Engineer: Siracuse Engineers
- Landscape Architect: Joy Kuebler Landscape Architect
- Civil Engineers: Foit-Albert Associates
- Construction Manager: The Peyton Barlow Company