Richardson Complex - Table of Contents................. Museum District - Table of Contents

Adaptive reuse - Richardson Olmsted Complex
AKA: State Insane Asylum, State Lunatic Asylum, Buffalo State Hospital, Buffalo Psychiatric Center
400 Forest Avenue, Buffalo, NY

Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center - Official Website

A National Historic Landmark

On this page, below:

Adaptive Reuse History - 2014-2016

Adaptive reuse architects

Queenseyes, A Fresh Look at The Richardson-Olmsted Complex

North elevation  Facing Buffalo State College

South lawn  Facing Forest Avenue

South elevation  Facing Forest Avenue

Adaptive Reuse History - 2014-2016
The board of the Richardson Center Corporation (RCC) was appointed in July, 2006 by Governor Pataki to chart the future course of the rehabilitation of the historic former hospital designed by noted American architect H. H. Richardson and grounds designed by noted American landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The RCC Board includes Stanford Lipsey, Chairman; Howard Zemsky, Vice Chairman; Paul Hojnacki, Treasurer; Commissioner Carol Ash, Clinton Brown; Paul Ciminelli; Christopher Greene, Esq.; Eva Hassett; Muriel Howard, PhD; and Richard Tobe.

In August of 2007, The Richardson Center Corporation engaged the nationally recognized architecture and engineering team of Goody Clancy and Simpson Gumpertz & Heger to develop a Historic Structures Report for the H.H. Richardson Complex and Olmsted grounds. An important first step in the development of major sites of cultural heritage, a Historic Structures Report provides documentary and physical information about a property’s history and existing condition that serves as a guide during restoration and adaptive reuse.

The re-greening of the South Lawn of the Olmsted-Vaux landscape was completed in 2013. Additional landscaping adjustments and a new northern roadway created a second entry to the campus.

Hotel Henry Urban Resort Conference Center and the Lipsey Buffalo Architecture Center are at the heart of the rehabilitation and adaptive reuse of the Richardson Olmsted Campus.

Construction began in October 2014 and was completed at the end of 2016, supported by state funds and historic tax credits.  Both venues will occupy the iconic Towers Building and its two flanking structures.

Design and construction team:
Flynn Battaglia Architects, executive architect, Buffalo
Deborah Berke Partners, design architect, New York City
Goody Clancy, historic preservation firm, Boston
Andropogon Associates
architecture firm, Philadelphia
LP Ciminelli, construction-management firm, Buffalo
- Source:  Richardson Olmsted Campus (online July 2020)

Adaptive reuse architects:

Deborah Berke Partners
Deborah Berke began her career as an architect in 1982. Since then, she has assembled a senior team to form Deborah Berke Partners, with whom she has created a distinct and lasting body of work.  In July 2016, Deborah became the first woman dean of the Yale School of Architecture, where she has been a professor since 19

Flynn Battaglia Architects was founded in 1989   ...   Peter Flynn  and Ronald Battaglia    ...   15 person firm
Buffalo projects:
Asbury Delaware Church
Buffalo & Erie County Naval & Military Park
Guaranty Building
Williamsville Mill
Genesee Gateway Block Restoration
Buffalo & Erie County  Botanical Gardens Dome
Restoration - ECC City Campus
Roycroft Power House

Andropogon Associates
Founded more than 40 years ago, Andropogon is a landscape architecture and ecological design firm committed to the principle of “designing with nature,” while creating beautiful and evocative landscapes inspired by the careful observation of natural processes that are informed by the best environmental science.


A Fresh Look at The Richardson-Olmsted Complex
by  Queenseyes
Buffalo Rising, August 29, 2013 (online July 2020)

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

The board of the Richardson-Olmsted Complex was designed in 2006. Since that time, the board has been busy with planning measures, community involvement and coming up with reuse scenarios. The initial reuse, consisting of the hotel component with café, the architectural center and the event and conference space, is scheduled to be completed by early 2016. That’s an admirable timeframe seeing that we are approaching 2014.

A couple of days ago I met up with Monica Pellegrino Faix, Executive Director Richardson Center Corporation, who showed me around the exterior of the administration building while pointing out a series of (still in the works) renderings that depict the direction of the project. On the back side of the building (facing Buffalo State) the entranceway will look a bit different.

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

Instead of the 1918 brick add-on (the Medina sandstone building was built in 1871), there will be a glass entranceway that will mimic the design of the brick structure that it is replacing.

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

Inside the entranceway will be a stairway that will take visitors to the main floor of the hotel lobby.

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

This was the easiest way to solve the conundrum that the corporation faced when they learned that the rear entranceway of the building was actually much lower that than the front entranceway (where hotel services will be located).

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

The original Medina sandstone will be viewable through the glass entranceway in order to respect the architectural details of the building. Visitors will also be able to walk out on top of the new entranceway that will second as a patio.

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

The archways that create walkways from the front of the building to the rear will remain open to the public, creating a flow that will lead people from the park-like setting along Forest, through the building, and out towards the agrarian side of the building in back. That is also where the crux of the parking will be found, as well as roadways and walkways that will help to create access from Buffalo State, Elmwood Avenue and Grant Street.

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

The new hotel, to be operated by The Mansion on Delaware was actually able to make use of space that many thought to be impossible.


Seeing that the asylum rooms were way too small to accommodate guests, a number of walls are being leveled in order to create space. At the same time, there will be bump-outs into the massive hallways that will appear to look like armoires to the untrained eye (see above).

Design images: © Deborah Berke and Partners Architects LLC

Moving back out to the exterior of the building, an ugly elevator shaft (added much later in the life of the asylum) will be removed, thankfully. The grounds continue to unfold nicely, with rain gardens and pedestrian bridges, walkways, benches, lighting and patio-like drop-off areas for visitors.

The design team is comprised of executive architect Flynn Battaglia Architects of Buffalo and design architect Deborah Berke Partners of New York. Additional members of the team include Boston-based historic preservation firm Goody Clancy; Andropogon Associates, a Philadelphia-based landscape architecture firm; LP Ciminelli, a construction management firm from Buffalo.

July 2020 Photos

North elevation - Facing Buffalo State College

Historic view:  Back of buildings  --  Center pavilion adaptive reuse: Hotel Henry entrance

Because there are connectors between the original eleven buildings, the buildings are considered pavilions    ...  
 Historic administration Building in center with twin towers   ...   With adaptive reuse, the former center pavilion/administration building and immediately adjoining pavilions function as the Hotel Henry   ...   The other pavilions are  vacant and awaiting adaptive reuse plans

Main entrance to Hotel Henry

 East pavilions and Hotel Henry entrance at right

At left of photo: Hotel Henry entrance, flanked by west pavilions

Center pavilion / Hotel Henry entrance iconic twin towers

Hotel Henry entrance    ...  Note the left/east connector no longer has the copper roof that the west connector still retains   ...    2018  Spirit of Community sculpture,  Daniel Shafer sculptor

Pavilion at left flanks the center pavilion/Hotel Henry entrance and is part of the Hotel Henry   ...   In between the two pavilions: east connector

2018  Spirit of Community sculpture     ...   West connector   ...   Pavilion at right flanks the center pavilion/Hotel Henry entrance and is part of the Hotel Henry

Connector  on the west side of Hotel Henry

West connector  detail   ...   Background: south lawn

Viewing the2018  Spirit of Community sculpture from the hotel entrance looking towards the Buffalo State College campus

Looking towards the Buffalo State College campus   ...   Walls enclose original flower garden(?)   ...  Another angle below:

The Covid-19 pandemic closed the Hotel Henry during the summer of 2020

New adaptive reuse glass wall, doors, and staircase lead to lobby of  Hotel Henry   ...   Entry space at right leads to the architecture museum  


July 2020 Photos

South Lawn
  Facing Forest Avenue
Adaptive reuse architect: Andropogon Associates

In 1927 the historic 203 acres site was  truncated to less than 100 acres with the addition of the Buffalo State College site.  The Hotel Henry restaurant is named 100 Acres.

View from the central pavilion  (historic Administration Building) looking towards Forest Avenue   ...   Left background building:  1965 Buffalo Psychiatric Center Strozzi Building

View from the central pavilion  (former Administration Building) looking towards Forest Avenue

Note timber tree supports, detailed below:

View from Forest Avenue   ...   Jim Hodges, Look and See sculpture, on loan from the Albright Knox Art Gallery

July 2020 Photos
South elevation - Facing Forest Avenue

Because there are connectors between buildings, the buildings are considered pavilions     ...  
Pavilions are situated (V-shaped) so as to receive maximum sunlight   ...    The twin towers of the center pavilion Administration  Bldg. rising to 180’ create strong vertical emphasis in the center.    ...   The ward buildings extending outwards gradually decrease in height, thus reinforcing the center and importance of distance from it.   ...   Three buildings farthest to the right (east) were demolished

West pavilions to the left (west)  of the Administration Building
Medina sandstone

Medina sandstone detail   ...  
Rusticated, random ashlar pattern; ashlar blocks are rock faced    ...    
The central Administration Building and two wings directly flanking each side were constructed of Medina sandstone.    ...   The three outermost wings on each side were constructed of red brick.

West pavilions     ...   Note walkway at bottom of photo that leads to a connector with underground tunnel

West pavilion
Engaged columns decorate the chimney   ...   Dormer window   ...   Corbel tables

West pavilions
Because there are connectors between buildings, the buildings are considered pavilions   ...    One of two connectors with underground tunnel   ...   Pavilion at  right is the historic Administration Building.   ...   The Administration Building and the two adjoining pavilions comprise Hotel Henry   ...   As of 2020, the other pavilions are vacant, awaiting adaptive reuse

pavilion/historic administration Building/Hotel Henry back entrance

Center pavilion
US and New York State flags

Center pavilion
Iconic twin towers are decorative in the sense that they were never intended to be functional and occupied   ...   Historic main entrance   ...  With 2014-2016 adaptive reuse, the main entrance is on the other side of the building

Center pavilion
Copper towers were originally slate covered

Center pavilion
Pinnacles on towers    ...    Decorative loophole   ...   Engaged columns   ...    Corbel tables   ...   Segmental arches over windows   ...
"Instead of relying on obvious flourishes, Richardson used various stone surface treatments, trim elements and joint details to produce patterns and textures that went on to define Richardson’s signature style." - Goody Clancy, Richardson Olmsted Complex Historic Structures Report (online July 2020)

Center pavilion
Pinnacles on towers    ...    Decorative loophole     ...   Corbel tables 

Center pavilion
Flared roof     ...     Dentil molding    ...    Corbel tables   ...   Columns   ...   Dormers

Center pavilion
Finial   ...   Unusual conductor  head

Center pavilion
Entry loggia   ...   Original main entrance   ...   In the 2014-2016 adaptive reuse, the main entrance is on the opposite north elevation, facing Buffalo State College

Center pavilion  entry loggia  

Center pavilion
Syrian arches

Center pavilion
Groin vaulted ceiling   ...   Mosaic tiles on sides

Center pavilion
Roman brick barrel roof   ...   Mosaic  ceramic tiles 

Center pavilion
Foliated  corbel at base of 
groin vaulted rib

Center pavilion
Fanlight  transom

Center pavilion
Squat Romanesque column

Center pavilion
Foliated  capital

Center pavilion
Cornerstone:  "A.L." stands for "Anno Lucis." It is part of the Masonic calendar. The symbol between the dates is Masonic: the compass and straight edge are both tools used by working masons.   ...   (Special thanks to librarian Cynthia Van Ness for her assistance)

Center pavilion - southeast view

Center pavilion

Center pavilion

Center pavilion

Center pavili
Three finials   ...   Loophole     ...   Corbel tables

Right side (east) connector with tunnel   ...   Center pavilion at left of photo   ...   Both buildings are part of Hotel Henry

Right pavilions

Color photos and their arrangement © 2020 Chuck LaChiusa
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