Date of Award

8-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Architecture

Major

Architecture

Major Professor

Brian Ambroziak

Committee Members

George Dodds, Scott Wall

Abstract

This thesis is about the act of inhabiting the post-industrial landscape: about how a city with the remains of and scars from a previous era can begin to repurpose those remnants--both in a physical, as well as intangible sense. Proposing an alternative to the patterns of development that created such a landscape, it offers resistance to the entrenched values of privatization, commodification, and consumption.

The chosen site--an abandoned grain elevator in Buffalo, New York--sits at a nexus of converging landscapes: the grid of downtown to the north, a former industrial canal to the east, a stretch of barren waterfront land to the south, and the expansive Lake Erie to the west. This site, existing at the mouth of the now contaminated Buffalo River, possesses both beauty and sublimity in its deterioration; as such, it is uniquely situated to become a charged point of entry to the desolate waterfront beyond, as well as a bridge--literally and figuratively--between the city, its heritage, and its legacy.

Drawing on such precedents as the library and the enlightenment-era salon as traditional places of scholarship and colloquy, the project is also influenced by the archetypes of the tavern and the union hall as more informal, although no less vital, places of cultural exchange. It is the aim of this thesis to bring the residents of Buffalo together in a public platform that would impress and bring into focus the processes that created the current conditions, allow for the meaningful re-inhabitation of this landscape, as well as foster a sense of community, dialogue, exchange, learning, and inquiry, with the desired outcome of participatory change.

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