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Shoreline: Paul Rudolph & Brutalism - Remembering a Waterfront Vision (Part 1)

  • Niagara Falls Public Library 1425 Main Street Niagara Falls, NY, 14305 United States (map)
Shoreline Construction_01.jpg

Located steps from City Hall in Buffalo’s Lower West Side, the Shoreline Apartments is a housing complex designed by master architect Paul Rudolph and completed in 1974. Featuring shed roofs, ribbed concrete exteriors, projecting balconies, and enclosed garden courts, the project combined Rudolph’s spatial radicalism with experiments in human-scaled high-density housing. It was originally part of the Buffalo Waterfront Development, an ambitious, mixed-income urban renewal project commissioned by the NYS Urban Development Corporation in 1969. Rudolph’s scheme featured an arrangement of monumental, terraced high-rises flanking a marina, a sprawling school and community center, and a series of slinking low- and mid-rise apartment buildings meant to evoke Italian mountain villages, with green spaces woven through the site. In the end, only two phases of affordable housing were built.

Today they are among the most hated buildings in Buffalo. Like many public housing contemporaries, their inventive, complex forms and admirable social aspirations have been overshadowed by disrepair, crime, and vacancy. The site’s owner, in 2013, proposed a phased demolition with new Victorian-style townhouses. Following failed attempts at landmarking the complex, the first round of demolitions began in summer 2015.

The Opening Keynote by Kelvin Dickinson, Executive Director of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation, located in NYC and the panel will take a provocative look at Brutalist buildings, preservation projects and research in Buffalo, Boston and Toronto, which demonstrate the pros and cons of saving and reusing these buildings in a meaningful way. The opening keynote and panel will present a philosophical discussion of Brutalism historically and today and review of the preservation of concrete panels and concrete block. Panelists include : Chris Grimley, designer and co-author of “Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston” ; Michael McClelland, Toronto architect and co-author of “Concrete Toronto”; Kate Wagner, blogger known for “McMansion Hell”.

This event is free and open to the public. Those who attend will earn four (4) HSW continuing education credits. Those interested may register by clicking here. Additional information can be found online by visiting the El Museo website at