Buffalo & Rochester

Continuing our tour of cities that were really important 100 years ago but not so much now, we cruised through downtown Buffalo and Rochester.  I think cities such as these are where you often find some of the best architecture and art in this country: they had a lot of money to spend back then, when you could still buy great European art, and when there seemed to be more clients who cared about architecture.

I’ve already posted the great Wright and Richardson buildings here, so the obvious completion of the architecture trifecta is the Guaranty Building, one of Sullivan’s best.  Simple, elegant, beautifully proportioned, it really stands out against the banal post-war buildings near it.  DSCF1913 DSCF1902

I was told to go see the Ellicott Square building by a few people – a full block building with a central skylit atrium.DSCF1924


The train station, in context:DSCF1933

Down the Niagara River past the Falls, The New York State Power Vista is where the big American and Canadian hydropower plants face off against each other.  The sheer scale of these dams is worth a visit.DSCF1724

And inside the excellent visitors’ center, there is a surprise:  A Thomas Hart Benton mural, which is reminiscent of those in Kansas City.DSCF1737

Rochester doesn’t have a great reputation, and the downtown is not compelling – mainly mediocre buildings from all eras.  But there are highlights.

We came to Rochester to see the Kahn Unitarian Church, and the Broad Street Bridge, which when originally built, was an aqueduct which carried the Erie Canal over the Genesee River.  It was later used to carry the subway across, and with the addition of the top roadway level, converted to a vehicular bridge (also good for the parking of small trailers. DSCF1974

The Andrews Terrace apartment building started life in the 1970s as downtown luxury apartments which didn’t fly, and is now Section 8 housing.  What struck me is that many current architects are playing games with angles, and here is a 40-year-old building which anticipated many of the moves, quite elegantly and simply, since there were no computers to facilitate needless complications.  I can’t find who the architect was.DSCF1984

I think it’s pretty compelling when glimpsed from down the street.DSCF1949

Rochester has some buildings which I don’t think are very good, but they’re kind of fun:DSCF1990

especially this one, which is open to many interpretations.  I thought Barad-dur, or maybe those fighters in Star Wars where the wings fold up.  Greta thought was Aragorn’s crown.  I have to admire the originality and chutzpah – never seen anything quite like it.DSCF1952


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