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Home arrow Working with Section 106 arrow ACHP Case Digest arrow Winter 2005 arrow New York: Construction of a Federal Courthouse, Buffalo
New York: Construction of a Federal Courthouse, Buffalo

Agency: General Services Administration
As reported in the spring 2004 Case Digest, controversy surrounds the construction of a new Federal courthouse in the Niagara Square area of Buffalo, New York.

The General Services Administration has planned the courthouse as a contemporary structure. Some community members have embraced the courthouse’s modern design, while others feel that it is out of context with the location’s historic nature.

A drawing depicting the proposed Federal courthouse and its location, Buffalo, New York. 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)

In June 2004, the ACHP, the General Services Administration (GSA), the New York State Historic Preservation Officer (SHPO), the City of Buffalo, and the courthouse architect signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) on the project.

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.

In addition, GSA would train its regional staff to initiate Section 106 consultation early—and 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.

In December 2004, GSA submitted to the ACHP and the SHPO preliminary designs for the new courthouse, with modifications to the entry pavilion as negotiated by the ACHP in the MOA.

The ACHP and SHPO submitted various comments relating to the compatibility of the proposed design to the historic Ellicott district. Further
negotiations are required to address these concerns and determine the final design.

The SHPO is particularly concerned with the compatibility of the building materials with those of the Buffalo downtown. The ACHP is concerned with the relationship of the pavilion to the historic Niagara Square.

For background information on this case, visit the spring 2004 Case Digest.

Staff contact: Hector Abreu

Updated August 31, 2005

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