How long have you been writing
My first article for Spree was in
2000. I’ve written on many subjects,
but development and Buffalo’s
architecture have been front and
What’s best about being called
the architecture critic?
I’ve long subscribed to Buffalo
Spree. Years ago, no matter the
season or specific issue, I’d first
look for whatever Austin Fox had
written about and devour the article.
So, the occasions when people
mention my name and his in the
same sentence are just very sweet.
What do you like most about
Buffalo’s built environment?
I love the history and the variety
of Buffalo’s architecture, and that
depth of vernacular buildings—
just plain, everyday, nonlandmark
structures. In retrospect, I appreciate
those static rust-belt years that
ironically saved our building stock.
As much of the country operated
with a philosophy of demolition in
the name of progress, most of our
architectural fabric was spared.
What do you like least?
I was frustrated that good modern
architecture just didn’t exist in
Western New York. From being
one of the most progressive cities
architecturally, where every important
American architect at the turn of
the century did fine work (those
buildings have since become icons),
there was a dearth of good buildings
for many decades.
I disagree with the school of
thought that infill buildings must
match the period of those around
them. I believe that buildings
should celebrate the time in which
they’re built, while still connecting
to the past and future. I think good
contemporary architecture finally
happened here with the Hauptmann
Woodward Research Institute and
the Burchfield Penney Art Center,
and I’d add the Federal Court House,
Delaware North, and the new Medical
School. It’s a long void from which
we still play catch-up!
What’s your favorite building in
As an architectural historian whose
academic focus was in American
Architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright,
the restoration of the Darwin Martin
House complex is near and dear
to my heart. I’m a senior mentoring
docent, long-time volunteer and
supporter, and vocal cheerleader.
It’s the most ambitious restoration/
reconstruction project ever
undertaken of any Wright structure,
and, as such, is being watched by
architects and historians around the
world. This Prairie House estate is
one of Wright’s finest, and it’s here
I still love the Gordon Bunshaft
addition to the Albright-Knox, where
the addition became the perfect foil
for the original Beaux Arts building.
That originally controversial (now
beloved) project having been done
almost sixty years ago, I’m glad
that the AKAG has undertaken a
careful analysis of how to handle its
upcoming expansion, a remarkable
opportunity for the region.
A favorite building elsewhere?
It’s hard to pick one. Maybe
Gehry’s Guggenheim Museum
in Bilbao. It’s revolutionary—even
breathtaking—and it drastically
transformed the psyche of an entire
city. If I could pick more, I’d probably
go with any of the Gaudi structures
in Barcelona, or Mackintosh’s Hill
House in Scotland.
What do you like the least?
If you’re asking me to call out
the worst building in Western New
York, I don’t usually allow myself the
luxury of being that dogmatically
judgmental. That being said, I’d
easily pick Lackawanna City Hall.
At the risk of offending whoever
designed it (I’ve never wanted to
know), it represents everything that
gave modern architecture a bad
The second worst would be
Canisius College’s Churchill Tower.
Shoehorned on the quad in front
of Old Main, it violates the classical
building’s dignity and spirit. The
ultimate offense is its connector
walkway which slashes into Old
Main’s second floor like a fatal knife
wound into her heart. That sweet
urban campus deserves better.
Your favorite cultural options in
My wife, Toby, and I have always
been fans of dance. There’s not
enough in Buffalo. We loved the
days when world-renown troupes
regularly performed at Artpark.
(Were those state-subsidized tickets
really only six dollars?) We’ve
followed most of those same dance
troupes for years. My personal
absolute favorite piece is Alvin
Ailey’s Revelations. No matter in
what city it’s being performed in, I
find it exhilarating and cannot see
it too many times. In Buffalo, I think
Lehrer Dance has brought a real
credibility and energy to Buffalo’s
It appears you’ve embarked on
another career. What prompted
Yes, I went back to get my real
estate license. For years, I’ve been
asked by friends and family to help
plan new or old residences, helping
them decide on whether to renovate
existing homes, put on additions, or
to accompany them on house hunts.
I’ve designed and built and restored
properties in Buffalo, its suburbs,
and in Niagara-on-the-Lake.
The built environment and how
people live and enjoy their homes
have always been passions of mine,
so it was a natural progression to
make it official. For many years, I
was CEO of United Uniform with
locations in Buffalo, Rochester, and
Syracuse. It’s engrained in me to
recognize how much long-term
Buffalo-based business contributes
to the region, so Hunt Real Estate
was the perfect fit. Homes need to
respond to people’s needs as their
situations change. Whether upsizing,
downsizing, or planning for aging-in-place, working with clients to find
the best solutions and negotiating
their transactions has been a new
challenge and very satisfying.
You sat on the City of Buffalo
Preservation Board for years. Is
there a project you are working
I’m no longer on the board, but
I’m knee-deep in restoring an
original one-room school house
in the Village of Williamsville. Built
in 1840, it’s a local landmark. Its
stone walls are eighteen inches
thick. New roof, substantial masonry
repair, window restoration, and
mechanicals are works-in-progress
or complete. The interior has been
completely reimagined, all while
complying with SHPO guidelines
under auspices of the Williamsville
Historic Preservation Commission.
Researching the building’s history
and its various uses over the years
has brought it to life for me. It’s
been a lengthy but fun process—
maybe I’ll write about it for Spree
when it’s completed!
Meet a Spree writer: Barry A. Muskat
LOVE IS …
What inspires love more
than Buffalo in February?
Nothin’, I tell ya. While
Lake effect wanes and
fresh snow covers blackened slush piles, we turn to
thoughts of love. Because
we’re lazy and it’s cold out,
we Googled love and where
to find it.
Search 1: “Love is…”
patient, love is kind
an open door
in the air
Search 2: “Where do I
in the bible
lovely charms in wow
Search 3: “Where is
black eyed peas