Elevator B is a collaborative project between graduate students from the University at Buffalo’s School of Architecture and Planning (B a/p) and Rigidized Metals, a Buffalo based building material manufacturer. The overall goal of the project was to successfully design for the relocation and habitation of a colony of honeybees occupying a building at Silo City, a dense cluster of grain elevators in Buffalo, NY. Elevator B was selected from a group of ten entries submitted to a competition organized by B a/p’s Department of Architecture Ecological Practices Research Group. A mixed panel of jurors from the fields of architecture and planning, representatives from Rigidized Metals, and a beekeeper selected the winning project.
Elevator B is an iconic gesture of the regeneration of Silo City, both naturally and economically. The material properties of the tower represent the cluster of material manufactures now located around the site while housing the colony of bees. Visitors enter the tower from below and look up, similar to the way one experiences the silos and bins of the nearby Marine A elevator. The 22’ tall honeycombed steel structure was designed and built utilizing standard steel angle and tube sections. The structure is sheathed in perforated stainless steel panels that were designed to protect the hive and visitors from the wind, and allow for solar gain and shading.
The bees are housed in a hexagonal cypress box with a laminated glass bottom through which the bees can be observed. This provides protection, warmth and separates entry access between bees and humans. Professional beekeepers gain access to the hive by lowering it, which allows them to ensure the health and safety of the bees. This feature also caters to school groups that will visit the site allowing children to get a close up view. The tower’s orientation also frames key views of the surrounding historic grain elevators and the new upcoming developments of Silo City.
The construction phase started May 14th at the University at Buffalo Material and Methods Shop. The exterior metal panels were developed by the team in coordination with and fabricated by the project sponsor, Rigidized Metals. The entire project was fabricated and installed by the team of students and was completed in the beginning of June. The bees were relocated into the tower on June 8th and have been rapidly building honeycomb inside their new home.
Elevator B has received recognition from a variety of publications, including the Toronto Globe and Mail: “Set against the mammoth scale of the grain elevators, the contemporary beehive totem looks like a piece of minor surrealism. But, as an educator about new form and new life, it’s a major opus.” – Lisa RochonOther publications include: American Society of Landscape Architects, Azure Magazine, Animal Architecture.org, Archinect, ArchNewsNow Project Sponsor: Rick Smith, Rigidized Metals, University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning (B/a+p) Team:
Courtney Creenan – M.Arch + MUP 2012
Kyle Mastalinski – M.Arch + MUP 2013
Daniel Nead – M.Arch + MUP 2013
Scott Selin – M.Arch 2012
Lisa Stern – M.Arch 2012 Fabrication Assistant:
Yinan Zhang – Parametric Modeler + M.Arch 2012 Faculty Advisors:
Martha Bohm – Assistant Professor
Joyce Hwang – Assistant Professor
Christopher Romano – Clinical Assistant Professor Consultants:
Philip Barr – Beekeeper
Peter Grace – Structural engineer
Mark Bajorek – Structural engineer
Alex Poklinkowski – Beekeeper + B.S. Arch, 2014