The original Albright-Knox Art Gallery building in Buffalo, New York was designed by Edward B. Greene and opened in 1905. The gallery is sited in the historic Delaware Park designed by Fredrick Law Olmstead, and both the gallery and park are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The original gallery is a two-story white marble Greek-revival structure designed after the ancient Erectheum in Athens, with seventy-four two-story tall Ionic columns, a batten seam sheet metal copper roof and twin porches with caryatids executed by sculptor Augustus St. Gaudens. The gallery’s 1962 southern addition was designed Gordon Bunshaft (Skidmore Owens and Merrill) and is an excellent example of Modern architecture with its white marble clad unornamented base and floating glass auditorium.
We are providing structural renewal, envelope renewal and historic preservation services to the Buffalo Fine Arts Commission for the gallery’s expansion and modernization. We are also providing façade engineering and waterproofing services to OMA and Cooper Robertson for the gallery’s new 91,000-thousand-square-foot north addition.
Renewal & Restoration Highlights
- We performed a condition assessment of the facades, roofs and below-grade areas, which assisted the client in obtaining grants for façade related repairs.
- We designed repairs to restore the marble cornice of the original 1905 building, which included removal and resetting of the historic stones and installing new wood gutters. The 115-year-old copper crest, which wraps the building at the cornice, was dismantled, labeled, restored off site and reinstalled in their original locations. At areas where cresting could not be salvaged, new material was stamped using an antique rope drop hammers similar to what was used in 1905.
- We specified a series of cleaning mockups to evaluate safe and effective techniques to remove the atmospheric soiling that had obscured the nature veining of the white Cockeysville marble. Low-pressure micro abrasion was found to be both safe for the historic fabric and effective at removing a multitude of soiling types.
- Our team used Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM) to identify deep penetrating stains within the Cockeysville marble which was then used to design custom poultices to pull these contaminants from the stone.
- We designed reinforcing repairs at the steel roof trusses that included localized welding of steel plates to reinforce areas of section loss. Portions of the clay book-tile roof were also repaired and replacement material sourced with the assistance of local manufacturer Boston Valley Terra Cotta.
- Our team designed repairs to re-glaze the large windows of the iconic glass-box auditorium of the 1962 addition.
- We participated in public hearings for both the Buffalo Preservation Board (BPB) and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) for façade restoration approvals.
Façade engineering Highlights
- The façade scope for the new addition entails design of cladding, glazing and entrances as well as interfaces with and new openings in the existing building and a bridge connector.
- All the glazing and cladding systems are detailed to meet more stringent interior temperature, relative humidity and lighting requirements in order to protect the fragile nature of the art contents as well as meet human thermal comfort requirements.
- The glazing systems are stick built, aluminum, thermally broken, toggle systems that use insulated, laminated, low-e coated and argon infilled glass with warm edge spacers.
- The main feature of the new building is the “veil” consisting of a glazed steel and aluminum diagrid that wraps the entire second and third floors. We helped optimize and engineer the geometry to reduce the complexity, helping to simplify fabrication and constructability while maintaining the design intent of slender profiles and small sightlines.
- Our recommendation to use flat glass instead of hot and cold bent glass required by the original geometry resulted in an overall cost reduction.
- All the sloped glass at the veil has a custom digital frit that combined with interior shading and HVAC will help control solar heat gains and ensure human thermal comfort.
- In order to reduce the number and size of structural columns at the ground floor and at the bridge, the steel supporting the façade is also used as building structural system. The steel is designed by the SEOR and included on the structural drawings but fabricated and installed by the glazing contractor to meet the more stringent glazing tolerance requirements.