When it comes to the ongoing planning of the Albright Knox’s high profile expansion project, the prerogative of preserving the facade of the historic turn of the century structure should be among the institution’s top priorities.
The neoclassic revival architecture built at Buffalo’s pinnacle — at the time of the Pan American Exposition — is too central to the identity of the institute and the city’s flagship public park to impact it in any detrimental way. To allow an expansion that destroys a large portion of the facade would be a tragic footnote in the region’s architectural history.
The new annex structure could extend from the museum’s northwest wing and be built atop land currently occupied as a surface parking lot. A public space facing Elmwood Avenue could be used for outdoor programing and events, surrounded by extraordinary architecture in every direction.
The current campus offers challenges.
A complete and total removal of the Scajaquada Expressway would profoundly improve the quality of the public space fronting the institution. Removing access rods and narrowing Lincoln Parkway as it traverses Delaware Park would attract more pedestrian and leisurely uses of the gallery’s front lawn facing Hoyt Lake. Parking could be easily located offsite, perhaps Buffalo State College or the Burchfeild Penny.