Cottage in Black Rock - Two on the East Side

UB architecture students purchased this brick cottage at 139 Howell Street (google map) at the City's tax-sale a few years ago. The redesigned minimalist space is clean and the space, totally liveable. 139 Howell - the "Quad House" - is featured in ExinteriorDesign and there's a slide show with interior images in this recent Wallpaper review.
Here's a before pic and a construction series that I snapped during last Fall's open house.
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With UB architecture students showing what's possible with a brick cottage in Black Rock, it's even easier to imagine breathing life into a number of other City-owned brick cottages. 41 Milnor in Downtown Buffalo and 16 Harwood Place, right around the corner from Mayor Byron Brown's residence, come to mind. Both are available for $1.
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1962 said...

It perpetually amazes me that in this 'university town' - where one of the major universities has an architecture department - that there isn't more tactical involvement in the community. That it takes MIT to come to Buffalo to study the 'shrinking city' and RIT to use Broadway Market as a semester project should give local academia pause. There are enough examples of institution-driven rehab/reuse/community based projects that it's not as if it's inventing a new genre. With ten thousand abandoned properties in Buffalo, only one student project made it to the pages of the national shelter magazines? Buffalo could be a living laboratory for architecture and planning students, yet the universities seem to be fractured from their built environment - both figuratively and literally. I wonder how many UB architecture grad students have even been to the East Side? For an interesting read on what can actually happen when architecture students and abandoned housing mix, check out the following article. http://www.bsudailynews.com/architecture-students-help-revitalize-muncie-homes-1.2135343 And no, this has nothing to do with engineering a spinning facade. (IMHO a gratuitous project gone wrong in it's neglect to clean up it's own mess.)

fix buffalo said...

Here's that link - Architecture Students Help Revitalize Muncie Homes- great read.

DTK2OD said...

Honestly, the reason I chose to stay in Buffalo for graduate school and get my Master's in Urban Planning from UB's School of Architecture and Planning wasn't so much the profile of the school itself, but rather the opportunity to have an entire city as my classroom. Cities like Buffalo, Flint, and Youngstown are the new "urban frontiers" and are rapidly changing the way in which we look at and interact with our urban environments. They also help institutionalize the failed urban policies of decades past and the far reaching effects they can have (The Kensington Expressway to name one). I'm looking forward to my next two years here and hope I can have the same kind of hands on impact as this project (minus the Ikea inspired design).

BTW I'm really enjoying fixbuffalo's transition from photo to news blog. Spending almost as much time over here as I am on Buffalo Rising!

Eisenbart said...


How soon we forget no?

After these students leave who will want to live here? Can it be converted into something more reasonable other than 4 people jammed in?

1962 said...

I find that 'UB visionary architecture' spinning facade house (previous link) a complete insult on the (my) neighborhood. The last thing this city needs is overly-academic dilettentes creating an 'experiment' then leaving it to be the neighborhood's problem. That there was apparently no consideration of an end-user (if so, where are they?) nor a way for the house to exist as anything but a cartoon is socially irresponsible. Who would buy this for $15k? When I was in grad school for design (progressive East Coast art school) there was a code of social ethics that was understood and respected - ie: we did have a basic understanding of responsible and irresponsible experimentation. It has to do with being informed both on design principles AND the social and cultural context. What happened here is an embarrassment to UB's architecture department.

Push people said...

Yes, UB (and Buffalo State for that matter) have a long way to go in exercising complete social responsibility to the community. However, it was individuals involved in their programs that instigated the Quad House and the Sputnum Spinner not the school itself.

Eisenbart, the Quad House is an absolute success; to bad mouth it by doubting future tenancies unfairly discounts humanity's capability to adapt things and themselves.

1962, I agree the Sputnum Spinner should be re-visited by the University in order to resolve its affect on the neighborhood. The most likely way to get progress may be to put together a request to the A & P Dean, the University President and SUNY Chancellor and drop it right on their collective tables for immediate action.

Eisenbart said...

All I asked is what is going to happen to this home when their experiment is completed. I asked the same question with Putnam house when I visited them and didn't get a great answer. I am not bad mouthing, just concerned. To say I am badmouthing humanitys ability to adapt is ridiculous.

This will be a success when it joins the ranks of healthy homes and neighborhoods.

I am glad that these students are getting a chance to get some experience and to pad their resumes but at to what cost?

So I ask again... when these students leave their experiment, note not their home, what is going to happen to this home?

Push people said...

They own it. They put their own money and sweat equity into it. It is a healthy home and it makes the neighborhood better to have it renovated and occupied. It is a success!!

Saying they did it to "pad their resume" is overkill.

Ask them yourself what will happen when they leave, if you are so concerned. They have all been pretty forthcoming and outgoing about their project, appearing at the local GNPA and Business Association meetings. So just pop them an email to find out!

1962 said...

The difference with the Quad house - besides the good points made by PUSH People - is that the Quad house was an exercise in developing a livable dwelling. Which is why it made it to the pages of one of the most prestigious and well- respected shelter magazines on the stands. This is really a clever project - well executed, considered, and contextually appropriate. Experimental but not at the expense of the neighborhood. The necessary rehab was done, the house was cleaned up and this could easily be turned into a very cool one family or roommate share. If I were a student I'd rather invest in this than live in a dorm or pay rent to some slumlord. These are the kinds of architectural investigations that are possible and should be encouraged in Buffalo. There's a world of difference between this intelligent project and a gratuitous exercise in treating a house - in a thriving NEIGHBORHOOD - like a contextually disconnected piece of sculpture. The Quad house has a future as a HOUSE. The spinning 'concept' has a future as --? The Quad house shows what's possible. The spinning house shows an arrogant lack of understanding of social and architectural context. Really bad form for whomever is responsible. Worse yet, apparently the mechanism to make the facade turn entirely upside down is broken.

Eisenbart said...

I'll stop. I must be coming off a little bit more negative than I am intending to be.