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Rare Book Room Exhibit, BUILDING BUFFALO


Library Exhibit Focuses on Books That Built Buffalo  
Now @ the Downtown Central Library

An outstanding collection of books representing the history of architecture and landscape design that served as part of the education and inspiration of generations of architects in creating the architectural treasures Buffalo celebrates today is the focus of the new exhibit BUILDING BUFFALO: Buildings From Books, Books From Buildings at the Downtown Central Library, 1 Lafayette Square.  The exhibit is free and open to the public during all Library open hours through March 2018.

Curated by three expert architectural historians, Francis Kowsky (Buffalo State College emeritus), Nicholas Adams (Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, NY) and the Library’s Rare Book Curator Amy Pickard.  Library employee Nicole Kondziela provided technical aid to the group.

BUILDING BUFFALO showcases a selection of rare and exquisitely illustrated architectural books from the Library’s collection.  The books date from the late fifteenth century to the mid-twentieth century and include works by the great ancient Roman architect Vitruvius, the Italian architect Andrea Palladio, the modernist architect Le Corbusier and many others.  (A list of the works on exhibition can be found here: http://www.buffalolib.org/content/now-display/rare-book-room/architecture.

The existence of this massive collection of early architectural books (well over 400 titles in all) was all but unknown until Adams, Kowsky and Pickard revealed its depth. Buffalo’s is one of the premier civic collections of architectural books in the country assembled from the 1860s to the 1940s to provide a cultural resource for architects and residents in the growing city. Many architects drew their inspiration for their designs from these texts, a story which will be told in the exhibit.

Nineteenth-century editions included in the exhibit influenced early buildings in Western New York; others explain why many churches look the way they do.  Buffalo authors Oliver P. Smith and Lewis F. Allen, for whom Allentown was named, are also represented. There are books from Frederick Law Olmsted’s reading list.  Early twentieth-century volumes show how Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture, including the Larkin Building and Darwin Martin House, achieved worldwide renown.  Others reveal how people once envisioned the future and how designers dramatized the new skyscrapers that were changing the appearance of American cities, including Buffalo.

A companion catalogue, dedicated to the memory of architect Theodore "Ted" Lownie (1936-2017), who left a strong imprint on Buffalo’s historic architecture, details the assembly of the Library’s vast collection and connects the illustrations in its books.  The catalogue, BUILDING BUFFALO  Buildings From Books, Books From Buildings is available for purchase through Central Library or the online store at: http://bit.ly/2oo3hKH.

The BUILDING BUFFALO exhibition and catalogue were made possible through the generous support of The Baird Foundation, Catherine Flickinger Schweitzer, Gray Schweitzer, the Donald H. Cloudsley Foundation, Julian R. & Varue Oishei Foundation, Watts Architecture & Engineering, Weissman Family Foundation, Wayne & Janet Wisbaum and the Estate of Nicholas Bodnar.

A series of programs and tours supplementing the exhibit on various aspects of architecture and Buffalo’s built environment are planned throughout the year.  For more information, consult www.BuffaloLib.org or call 716-858-8900.