Preservation Buffalo Niagara was proud to present the first annual Modernism Week: a celebration of modern architecture, design, art, and culture in the Western New York region. Western New York was founded on a rich tradition of architectural experimentation that not only transformed our region but influenced modern architectural sensibilities around the world. Our first Modernism Week in Western New York took place on September 6-13, 2019, PBN’s Modernism Week celebrating and highlighting the architecture of the Modernist era throughout the region through engaging tours, a lecture, and a DIY driving tour.
“Western New York helped to shape modern architecture, and in turn, was shaped by some of the finest architectural minds of the period.”
Executive Director, Jessie Fisher
The week opened with Drive Yourself MODern, a 14-stop self-guided tour highlighting a few of the fine examples of modern era architecture throughout Western New York.
Christiana Limniatis jumpstarted the live events with her lecture, “Modern Living: Intro to Postwar Homes”. She discussed the housing needs of returning GI’s and their new families after WWII as well as the development of new building types and styles that incorporated new materials and philosophies.
The week continued with two tours, the first of Temple Beth Zion led by guides Bob Skerker and Rabbi Jonathan Freirich. Attendees shared a moment of silence beneath the stained glass windows in the temple and were impressed by an intimate explanation and reading of the Torah by Rabbi Freirich.
The second tour took place at the Earl W. Brydges building, the City of Niagara Falls Public Library, and was led by former Preservation Buffalo Niagara Executive Director Tom Yots. Participants were guided through the Paul Rudolph structure and allowed to experience pieces of its design often gated off such as the u-shaped gradual staircases and the third floor stacks.
Modernism Week’s finishing event was Dr. Irene E. Ayad’s lecture “Modern Architecture: Louis Sullivan’s Guaranty Building Reconsidered”. Dr. Ayad focused on Sullivan’s contribution to the development of the skyscraper, its relationship to Modern architecture, and emphasized the organic relationship between function and form.
Help Preservation Buffalo Niagara inventory Western New York’s modern built environment by submitting your favorite modern era historic resource. You can nominate a site, building, structure, object, or sign- anything that you find architecturally or culturally significance and was built between the 1930s and 1980s.