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Home Working with Section 106 ACHP Case Digest Spring 2004 New York: Construction of a Federal Courthouse, Buffalo
New York: Construction of a Federal Courthouse, Buffalo
Agency: General Services Administration
The General Services Administration (GSA) plans to construct a new Federal courthouse in Buffalo, New York, to address future space needs for the U.S. Courts and related agencies. The new building will also provide space for court agencies that are currently leasing space elsewhere in the city.
A rendering of the proposed courthouse (center) in Buffalo, New York. On the left is the 1931 Buffalo City Hall; on the right is the 1923 Statler Hotel. (drawing courtesy of KPF Architects)
The project would be located within the Buffalo central business district, and two structures that are eligible for the National Register of Historic Placesthe 1920 Erlanger Building, and the 1850 Balcom-Chandler Housemay be demolished under the courthouse construction plan.
In addition, the new courthouse would be next to the 1931 Buffalo City Hall, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places, and the 1923 Statler Hotel, which is eligible for the National Register. The courthouse would be constructed within the boundaries of the Joseph Ellicott Historic District, a Designated Local Preservation District and eligible for the National Register.
The community appears to be split between those who want to see the contemporary structure in downtown Buffalo and those who feel that the design is out of context with the historic district. Unfortunately, GSAs regional office involved the public, the ACHP, and the New York State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO) late in the buildings site selection and design stage, and the design review process has basically been closed to the general public.
Under the Section 106 review process, the ACHP, GSA, SHPO, City of Buffalo, and courthouse architect met in March 2004 to discuss a draft Memorandum of Agreement on the project. The ACHP says that the buildings entrance pavilion must be more compatible with the historic district.
Under the agreement, GSA and the SHPO would lead a public education program on the social and architectural history of the Joseph Ellicott Historic District. The structures that are currently on the site would be sold to the public or else documented before being demolished. GSA would train its regional staff to initiate Section 106 consultation earlyand thus avoid a repeat of the Buffalo situation. Finally, the SHPO and the ACHP would be allowed to review and comment on the final designs.
The ACHP is currently reviewing the final draft of the agreement.
Staff contact: Hector
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