M&T Bank - Table of
Explore Buffalo - Official
1969, One M&T Plaza has hosted free summer lunchtime concerts in
front of its downtown headquarters on Main Street. An array of
entertainment from music to dance has kept the downtown workforce
entertained every summer weekday at 12 noon. While the concert
sadly cannot take place in person this summer, the building can still
be admired. Explore Buffalo staff member and docent Suzanne Ernst
describes Minoru Yamasaki’s Buffalo commission. The skyscraper is
a stop on Explore Buffalo’s Masters of American Architecture walking
tour, now being offered several days a week throughout the summer.
Yamasaki is considered one of the leading innovators of the
architectural style called New Formalism. New Formalism features the
modern International Style combined with classical elements like
columns, arches and colonnades with strong building materials like
marble, granite or man-made concrete. The buildings are typically set
on a podium and have smooth walls and surfaces. Usually set in a plaza
with large sculptures or fountains, the style is meant to achieve an
air of monumentalism.
Yamasaki was influenced by the International Style movement of the time, which features buildings that are very sleek looking and without ornament, like the Central Branch of the Buffalo and Erie County Public Library in Lafayette Square and the Knox wing of the Albright Knox Gallery. (The Knox wing’s architect, Gordon Bunshaft, is credited with popularizing the International Style in America.) However, in this time, he traveled to places like Italy, India and Japan and found inspiration from the architecture there. The combination of influence from the International Style and classical elements are what resulted in the Yamasaki’s development of what is known as New Formalism.
He was best known for designing the World Trade Center in New York City which stood from 1973 until September 11, 2001. As he was designing the plans for those towers, his plans for One M&T Plaza in Buffalo were becoming a reality. In 1963 the president of M&T Bank chose Yamasaki to build the bank’s new headquarters in downtown Buffalo. Previously, the bank had heavily favored the classical/temple style for its buildings. A series of classical/temple style structures were built as headquarters over the years, starting with a Green & Wicks building in 1899. A 1913 classical structure by Furness, Evans and Co. increased the building to four stories. Many of the bank’s branches were modeled after this style. In 1963, M&T liked that Yamasaki’s style was contemporary but that it still reflected the bank’s tradition of classical ornamentation. Construction on the tower began in 1964 and the building officially opened in 1966.
a quick look, one sees a modern skyscraper, but with a closer look,
there are clearly classical elements and materials on the
The main entrance has columns interspersed with arches. Yamasaki
green trim marble imported from Italy on the base of the building on
the north and south sides. White marble is used on the
except for the green marble on the base. The white and
intentionally used together as they are the brand colors of M&T