State gives preser­va­tion award to Richard­son com­plex, cites Lipseys

The Buffalo News - - CITY&REGION - By Jay Tokasz NEWS STAFF RE­PORTER

It took decades, but the Richard­son Olm­sted Cam­pus has moved from faded ar­chi­tec­tural icon to sym­bol of Buffalo’s economic resur­gence.

And while preser­va­tion of the Na­tional His­toric Land­mark at Elm­wood and For­est av­enues is not en­tirely com­plete, state of­fi­cials have taken no­tice of the re­sults so far.

The New York State Of­fice of Parks, Recre­ation and His­toric Preser­va­tion on Thurs­day awarded the Richard­son Olm­sted Cam­pus and its first re­de­vel­op­ment project, Ho­tel Henry, with a 2016 NYS His­toric Preser­va­tion Award.

“It’s a pretty extraordinary trans­for­ma­tion,” said Daniel MacKay, the state’s deputy com­mis­sioner for his­toric preser­va­tion. “We don’t just have oc­cu­pancy, we have vi­brancy.”

MacKay cred­ited a “mul­ti­cylin­der en­gine” of gu­ber­na­to­rial ad­min­is­tra­tions, city may­ors and pri­vate-sec­tor “vi­sion­ar­ies,” such as for­mer Buffalo News Pub­lisher Stan­ford Lipsey, who for many years cham­pi­oned preser­va­tion of the long-ne­glected com­plex de­signed by famed ar­chi­tect H.H. Richard­son.

Lipsey, who died in 2016, also


do­nated with his wife, Ju­dith, $5 mil­lion to­ward the open­ing of an ar­chi­tec­tural cen­ter, with a main per­ma­nent gallery and other dis­play ar­eas, in­side the Richard­son com­plex.

MacKay had a close-up view of both the be­fore and the af­ter of the cam­pus. He toured the site of the aban­doned Buffalo State Asy­lum for the In­sane sev­eral years ago dur­ing his time as di­rec­tor of pub­lic pol­icy with the Preser­va­tion League of New York State.

Just a few weeks ago, he spent two nights in the 88-room bou­tique ho­tel that opened last April in the main tow­ers build­ing of the Richard­son Olm­sted Cam­pus.

“It’s just a re­mark­ably lovely place now,” he said.

Three of 13 build­ings are now be­ing reused – about a third of the cam­pus, which has a total of about 500,000 square feet of space. The 100 Acres restau­rant also is lo­cated at the site. It is con­sid­ered one of the largest his­toric preser­va­tion projects in the coun­try.

MacKay said the new ho­tel, restau­rant and ar­chi­tec­ture cen­ter should spur re­de­vel­op­ment of other parts of the Richard­son cam­pus, and sooner rather than later.

“All things be­ing equal, you would imag­ine that sub­se­quent phases will hap­pen more quickly,” he said.

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