It’s been a hot minute since we talked about all of the art and cultural advancements at Silo City – a 27 acre campus that sits on ancestral land of the Haudenosaunee peoples.
When we discuss art and culture, we must also discuss the reclaimed natural setting that encompasses and embodies the former industrial site.
The Lyceum – a holistic urban land management nonprofit – is the official operational entity that acts as steward of the reclaimed Silo City land. The nonprofit is run by Executive Director Maris Grundy, who works hand-in hand with the Lyceum’s Director of Arts and Culture, Olivia McCarthy, and Director of Ecology, Joshua Smith.
The Lyceum (Ancient Greek: Λύκειον, romanized: Lykeion) was a temple dedicated to Apollo Lyceus ("Apollo the wolf-god"). It was best known for the Peripatetic school of philosophy founded there by Aristotle in 334 BC.
This modern-day “temple without walls” is a site where observation, learning, and philosophical pondering takes place directly on the grounds of the campus – much as Aristotle did back in 334 BC. Whether it’s observing the habitats of bees and butterflies, learning about the Buffalo River Watershed, or philosophizing on the importance of the art within the Lyceum, a magical experience awaits. For those who want to seek out fascinating information pertaining to local history, arts, culture, and ecology, the Lyceum is the perfect place to take it all in.
Lyceum management includes:
- The enlivening of post-industrial soils with compost
- Growing native plant communities
- Collaborating on land-responsive installations and performances
The Lyceum is based on multidisciplinary regional land management principles via restoration ecology, deliberate community building, skills-based training, artistic expression, research, and place-based leadership.
Social and ecological elements are included in decision-making that is inclusive, informed, and adaptive with the goal of resilience.
It is for these reasons, and more, that the team at Silo City has opted to create a set of summer public hours, where people can explore everything that the Lyceum has to offer. The free, self-guided walks allow visitors to seek out fascinating site-based works, as well as some of the most thoughtful eco-minded green-spaces in the region.
The free self-guided walks will be available:
- Wednesdays 3pm-7pm | Starting Wednesday, June 14, through September
- Select Sundays 10am-noon (June 18, July 16, August 20, September 17)
Coming soon: A donation-based audio element is in the works, and will be launched in coming weeks (suggested $10 donation). The funds raised from the audio element will allow Silo City to continue on with these important and innovative exercises that are helping to transform the campus into one of the most unique environmental and cultural sites in WNY.
More information about public hours can be found at: www.lyceumsilo.city/public-hours
Onsite are several points of interest that highlight the unique place-based urban regeneration happening at Silo City, summarized below. These points will be available for viewing while on the self-guided public hours.
Art Points of Interest
Elevator B (2012)
Courtney Creenan, Scott Selin, Lisa Stern, Daniel Nead, and Kyle Mastalinski
Elevator B functions as a man-made bee habitat, site-specific installation, and educational point of interest at Silo City. Elevator B was a collaborative effort between the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning and Rigidized Metals Corp., who donated the building materials for the project. This 22-foot habitat was inspired by both the neighboring grain elevators as well as natural honeycomb structure.
Inside Elevator B lives an actual honeybee colony, protected in an innovative ‘bee cab’ made of wood and glass. In addition to protecting the living body of the colony, the bee cab allows visitors to view the colony and beekeepers to access it. It was the intention of Elevator B’s designers to not only build a home for the bees but also provide visitors with a way to learn more about bees and their place in Silo City’s larger ecosystem.
Riddle Sticks (2019)
Riddle Sticks is a site-specific sculpture that embodies the unique relationship between art, ecology, and history that Silo City aims to cultivate. Riddle Sticks is made up of steel Rigidized tubes of varying heights and diameters that welcomes visitors and enhances the site’s visual texture. Riddle Sticks also serves as an interactive point of interest that, when activated with a mallet, brings to life a unique array of sounds and vibrations.
The title ‘Riddle Sticks’ is a site-referencing play on words as a ‘riddle’ is a wooden mesh tool of the Victorian era that was used to sift grain. So, in addition to referencing the history of grain at Silo City, Riddle Sticks also metaphorically sifts the landscape.
Celastrus Scandens (American Bittersweet) (2020)
Lichty’s sculptural practice includes manipulation of manufactured and natural materials such as garden hose, construction fence, field marking tape, grass sod and non-invasive plants. As with Lichty’s other piece on-site, Warp, Celastrus Scandens (American Bittersweet) blends the vernacular of suburban infrastructure while exploring industrial and handmade techniques. Celastrus Scandens (American Bittersweet) is made up of material pulled from the derelict silos at Silo City and highlights the structural twists and turns of vines. The steel sculpture overhangs a pit where grain was historically conveyed into the silos and then lifted via scoops to the top, with the climbing vine of the piece’s namesake, American Bittersweet, climbing over the impressive structure.
The Trellis (2020)
UB School of Architecture & Planning Students: Sneha Arikapudi, Leticia Avila, Mark Bajorek, Vincent Bianco, Garth Burke, Leah Carpenter, Huaxiu Chen, Sonali Debas, Ben Ezquerra, Hope Forgus, Alejandro Frank, Bhalendu Gautam, Wade Georgi, Lizzy Gilman, Natalie Harack, Gwyn Harris, Lydia Ho, Lovepreet Kaur, Katie Lass, Heather Leslie, Mitchel Mesi, Christian Perrone, Forrest Rall, Brenna Reilly, Nathan Roukous, Yukta Satpute, Tom Schunk, Robert Sullivan, Christa Trautman, Debbie Urban, Chris Welch, Adara Zullo | Faculty: Laura Garofalo Khan, Joyce Hwang, Nicholas Rajkovich
The Trellis is a piece co-created by students of the UB Architecture and Planning Department in collaboration with Joshua Smith, Director of Ecology for Rigidized Metals. The work centers on a 60-foot diameter trellis composed of donated stainless steel viper tubing, each bent in a specific and unique way. The tubing is not usually used for structure, which left room for exploration in the planning and fabrication of the form. The planters at the base of the tubes were filled with willows and native vines* that have been woven into the trellis structure, training the plants to create a fantastic gathering space for events, education, and outreach.
Again (An Into the Weeds Project) (2022)
with Ecologist Josh Smith
Again (An Into the Weeds Project) grew from a 2019 earthwork project also constructed at Silo City entitled Into the Weeds – A Deliverance Garden. This most recent iteration is a participatory earthwork sculpture made of salvaged concrete slabs, construction sand as soil, and a selection of local powerful plants.* Revealing the biodiversity potential of growth in seemingly inhospitable environments, like post-industrial sites, Again expands upon themes of plant-human empowerment: sexual and reproductive health, ritual, and even death. Plant species chosen for Again (An Into the Weeds Project) evoke conversations surrounding waste, poison, possibility, and the coming together of destruction and regeneration.
River Hill (2022)
With ecologist Josh Smith
River Hill is an elevated labyrinth and pollinator garden with a design that is meant to mimic the meander of the Buffalo River. The land-art work invites guests to walk the thoughtfully designed path, physically wind and unwind, and embrace new insights and perspectives from within. The piece also intends to gift food, color, smell and experience to pollinators, birds, and people alike. The labyrinth is planted with hardy native plants that support pollinators.* A five-foot-wide pathway of mown yarrow and chamomile is punctuated with granite boulders and black locust logs. The labyrinth, a sacred, ancient, and living form works to help us come into close relationship with nature, the divine, and the nature of ourselves.
Ecological points of interest
The pond was originally constructed as a catchment basin that collected and cleaned the runoff from the neighboring parking lot. Although now it is rain-fed rather than functioning as a green infrastructure installation, the pond is a wetland microcosm containing native plants and creating habitat for the organisms present. Insect pollinators, water birds, amphibians and mammals use the pond as a necessary oasis for both seasonal activity and as a migratory stopover. *
Amidst Silo City’s iconic concrete structures there exists a natural refuge and ever- evolving urban greenspace. The Meadow serves as a popular point of interest thanks to its open landscape and large shade bearing Cottonwood tree. These features provide a harmonious space for gathering and contemplation.
Many of the plants found at the Lyceum are native plants, important to supporting sustainable regional biodiversity. Numerous plants are native ecotypes and were grown within the Lyceum at Silo City’s native plant nursery.
Maendeleo Soccer Pitch
Home of the Buffalo Maendeleo Soccer Club, Silo City’s soccer pitch speaks to the idea of movement, play, and holistic land management throughout our campus. Areas of recreation and designated activity offer a balance of use at Silo City that provides the public with space to enjoy an urban greenspace filled with exploration, creativity, and varied ecological use.
What To Know Before You Arrive
- Public hours are free to the public.
- All visitors must fill out a safety waiver either online (below) or in-person.
- Parking for public hours in Silo City’s greenspace is along Ohio Street (see map here or plug 630 Ohio Street into your GPS or Maps app).
- This is a post-industrial site, choose footwear accordingly.
- Public hours are not rain or shine. If we must cancel our public hours due to inclement weather, we will update our Facebook & Instagram at least 30 minutes a head of time.
- No outside food or drink is allowed at this time.
- Access to Marine A is not part of Silo City green space public hours.
- Visitors can stop by Duende, the bar & restaurant on campus, starting at 4pm on Wednesdays but there is no access by foot from the greenspace to Duende at this time. Learn more about Duende at www.duendesilo.city.
- Public hours conclude and the pedestrian entrance will close promptly at 7pm on Wednesdays and 12pm on Sunday.