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. In 2019, Preservation Buffalo Niagara (PBN) its first annual week (known then as Modernism Week) dedicated to celebrating the modern architecture, design, and art of the Western New York region and in 2020 and in 2021 it returned as ModernWNY. This year, from September 12 to September 17, ModernWNY celebrates and highlight the evolution of modernism in the area via two self-guided tours, one in-person walking tour, and three virtual lectures.
ModernWNY 2022 Events
Ongoing self-guided tours
PBN’s annual Drive Yourself MODern is a 14-stop self-guided driving tour that highlights some of the many fine examples of modern-era architecture throughout Western New York, featuring a different set of sites each year. From Minoru Yamasaki’s One M&T Plaza in Buffalo to Sebastian Tauriello’s Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean, experience a vast range of delightfully modern architecture. Don’t hesitate. Get your travelogue here and let PBN take the wheel. Click here to get your copy!
Originally marketed as the “new Delaware Avenue,” LeBrun Road attracted many wealthy Buffalonians during the first era of suburban development in the Town of Amherst. While earlier waves of development focused on “traditional” architectural styles, the post-WWII homes of LeBrun were decidedly more modern. The Rambling Ranches of LeBrun walking tour guides you on a 2.5-mile stroll exploring the palatial Ranch-type estates along the serpentine path of LeBrun Road. Put on your walking shoes and get to steppin’. Click here to get your copy!
In-person & virtual events
Pushing Boundaries in Modern Historic Preservation | Monday September 12th @ 6pm | Virtual Lecture
Twenty-five years after its founding, Docomomo US is pushing boundaries to preserve modern architecture, landscapes, and design through principled advocacy, collaboration, and celebration. Join Executive Director Liz Waytkus to learn more about their work nationally and internationally, and to learn more about some of the landmarks from across the country (and even right here in Buffalo) which are included in their 11 most threatened modern sites list. Click here to register!
The History and Future of the Great Northern Grain Elevator | Wednesday September 14th @ 6pm | Virtual Lecture
During the windstorm on December 11, 2021, Buffalo’s Great Northern Grain Elevator sustained significant damage to its north wall. In response to the damage, its owner, Archer Daniels Midland, has rushed to raze the landmark and erase its history. But what is its history? And, perhaps more importantly, how has it influenced the present? Hear from Gregory Delaney, professor in the University at Buffalo’s Architecture department, about the history of the Great Northern Grain Elevator (believed to be the only surviving example of a “brick box” elevator) and learn how Buffalo’s grain elevators influenced the likes of Walter Gropius and Mies van der Rohe in spurring the development of the modernist movement. Click here to register!
Artifacts of the Future: Design in the Space Age, 1957-1972 | Thursday September 15th @ 6pm | Virtual Lecture
Bridging the Atomic Age and the Information Age, the Space Age stands out as a revolutionary period of design history when science fiction became reality and designers made reality of imagination. In this lecture join Space Age design expert Martin McGee as he explores the myriad of prescient products that reflected the technology and materials driving the race to space, and how WNY-based Bell Aerospace’s “Bell Rocket Belt” was one of the most iconic symbols of the audacious time. Click here to register!
Modern Niagara Falls | Saturday September 17th @ 11am | In-person walking tour
While the long historical heritage of Niagara Falls cannot be denied, the city gained many examples of modern architecture during its period of urban renewal, including buildings like the Carborundum Office Complex and the former Native American Center for the Living Arts. On September 17, join PBN’s Director of Preservation Services Christiana Limniatis to explore modern design in downtown Niagara Falls. Click here to register!