Buffalo Bisons Baseball Stadium - Table of Contents

Buffalo Bisons Baseball Stadium
Old address name: 275 Washington St. at Swan St., Buffalo NY 14203
New address name: One James D., Griffin St, Buffalo, NY 14203

On this page below:

2016 Exterior photos

Richard Huntington, Good Enough for Buffalo?

Populous (Formerly HOK Sport)
Services engineer:
Wendel Engineers PC[
General contractor:
Cowper Construction Management
Former buildings on the site:
St. John's Grace Episcopal Church  ...  Statler Hotel
Stadium names:
Pilot Field (1988–95)
Downtown Ballpark (1995)
North AmeriCare Park (1995–98)
Dunn Tire Park (1999–2008)
Coca-Cola Field
City of Buffalo
Construction cost:

Postmodern style: Architecture of the late 20th century, appearing in the 1960s, that consciously uses complex forms, fantasy, and allusions to historic styles, in contrast to the austere forms and emphasis on utility of standard modern architecture.
A vivid example of this new approach was that Postmodernism saw the comeback of columns and other elements of premodern designs, sometimes adapting classical Greek and Roman examples.

East elevation on Oak St.

East elevation on Oak St. ...
  Traditional architecture features:  Pyramidal  roof  ...  Cupola  ...  King post supporting gable roof

Traditional architecture features: the arches and columns are a clear reference to Roman  colosseums

Traditional architecture features: Rustication  ...  Arch with fanlight ...  Columns

Traditional architecture  features:  Roman lattice  ...  Arch  ...  Columns

Traditional architecture features:  Portico  ...  Three examples of Roman lattice  ...  Four examples of columns

Traditional architecture features:   Roman lattice   ...  Arch  ...   Six columns

Traditional architecture feature:   Roman lattice

Traditional architecture feature:  Colonnade

Pilot Field (Bisons Stadium) Excerpts

Good Enough for Buffalo?
Why Does the Queen City Have No Great Examples of Modern Architecture?
 The Answer Has Something to do With Courage

By Richard Huntington
The Buffalo News,  September 25, 1988

Who would have thought when the city fathers started bandying about the term "downtown renaissance" a few years ago that they might in any way be talking about the real Renaissance, the one with the capital R, that unparalleled artistic phenomenon that started some 400 years ago in Italy and eventually spread throughout Europe.

But there it is -- the new stadium. With its trim rounded arches and plain columns all marching along together in unperturbed harmony, the building is a calculated foray into the Renaissance -- one of the most comforting, immediately satisfying and all-around user-friendly eras of art history.

This is a surprise. Until Pilot Field, Buffalo's new buildings were mostly modernist buildings, which by definition never look back. This one isn't modernist. It's a history-hungry structure, a borrower of the forms of the pre-industrial city; it has not a whiff of the utopian dream about it. It consoles the tired urban spirit as only a neoclassical building can. It's our very own quasi-Colosseum In short, it is our first serious major postmodern building.

Pilot Field followed the postmodern precepts to the letter. And its designers were mannerly about their borrowing. They took no daring dives into architectural history. Nor did they crib directly from the ancients or even from Renaissance architects. In fact, they didn't stray from home at all. Perhaps they had in mind the idea that it's rude to borrow from anyone but your near neighbors -- get that cup of sugar from folks whom you know and trust.

The neat round arches and the radiating "stonework" around them were derived from Ellicott Square up the block. This building, by Charles B. Atwood of D.H. Burnham and Co. (1895), is itself an interesting, but not especially original, remake of French Renaissance ideas. In order to keep some touch with the "cleanness" of modernism, the stadium architects dumped all the fancy stuff -- the terra-cotta decoration. If the stadium is designed for easy consumption, which is obviously the case, then elaborate decoration is out -- too nervous, too busy, the psychological equivalent of a dozen cups of coffee in a row.

The borrowing continues in the big cast-concrete capitals of the entryway columns; they are an abstract version of the complex floral motif in the Victorian Gothic-style Erie Community College building across the street. Again, not too rich, not too complicated: A plain rolled edge about the size of an empty paper towel roll is what is left of the unfolding Gothic leaf. The interpretation is as simple as can be without giving up the Gothic reference entirely.

At the moment, postmodernism is cozying up to cities like Buffalo, convincing politicians, architects and citizens that there is some enduring virtue to smuggling in spent stereotypes of past ages. Make architecture easy and entertaining, it counsels. Recycle history so we don't have to deal with the present. Give buildings the seductiveness of a television commercial. Make neat, non-threatening packages.

In a lot of ways, postmodernism gets architecture off the "originality" hook. It encourages the use of predigested ideas; a handsome amalgamation is enough. That's what we have with Pilot Field -- a handsome amalgamation. It will never look out of place to future generations. But then, it will never really excite the mind or the eye, either; it will never challenge an individual's capacity for perception. It will remain tasteful -- at least until the current view of tastefulness goes flat. Then it will retire into its pseudo-history.

The building has done something for the city that no structure or architectural setting has been able to do in the recent past: It has garnered acclaim for both its beauty and its function, from planners, architects and the public. It has generated enthusiasm for downtown and contributed significantly to fan support of the Buffalo Bisons.

And something rarer has happened. The building has been applauded by many observers for its sensitivity to its architectural context. Modernist buildings are loners; this one's a joiner.

Photos and their arrangement 2016 Chuck LaChiusa
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