BY BRUCE ADAMS
Delaware Park was designed
and developed by Frederick
Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux
around 1876. In 1905, E. B.
Green designed the neoclassical
Albright Art Gallery building
on Delaware Park land (the
museum was founded in 1862
and had been moving through
temporary locations). In 1962,
a modern addition designed by
Gordon Bunshaft was added,
and the museum’s name was
changed to the Albright-Knox
Art Gallery (AKAG).
In 2001, the AKAG established a goal of expanding the museum
again, which promptly went on the back burner with the 2008 recession. With the arrival of current director, Janne Sirén, in 2014, a
series of public meetings were initiated to gather input from the public on the museum’s future. The search for an architect began in 2015,
and the internationally renowned OMA firm was selected. Project
architect Shohei Shigematsu studied the history of the museum and
grounds and utilized public input to inform his approach. Last June, a
concept design was revealed, which features a glass atrium spanning
the space between the 1905 building and the “black box” part of the
1962 addition. The connecting Bunshaft hallway galleries and sculpture courtyard would be eliminated.
Reaction from preservationists and architects was largely negative. The blowback included a letter from Buffalo’s Preservation Board
reminding the museum of the building’s protected landmark status. Shohei Shigematsu stated that the concept drawings do not fully reflect the plan. Revised drawings will be released around the time
this article is in print.
THE PARTICIPANTS: For this roundtable, we initially contacted
a number of men and women, including architects, preservationists,
and critics. Most declined to comment, including some who had previously been vocal. Buffalo’s Preservation Board agreed that its members
would have no further comment. The AKAG is waiting for the revised
plan before commenting further.
Three distinguished individuals did join this conversation.
David Steele is an award-winning architect, born in Buffalo, but
now working in Chicago. He writes frequently on architecture, pres-
ervation, and urbanism and has published a book on Buffalo architec-
ture, Buffalo: Architecture in the American Forgotten Land.
Photo courtesy of the Albright-Knox