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Demo begun on Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments

June 20, 2015

The disappointing trend for Paul Rudolph buildings continues. Partial demolition of his Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo began in May. The loss comes after a concerted years-long effort by local residents and preservation organizations (DOCOMOMO US, ICOMOS, World Monuments Fund) to get official protection for the complex. The owner, Norstar Development, intends to replace five of the ribbed concrete buildings, containing 137 apartments, with cookie-cutter townhouses. A detailed account can be found on The Atlantic CityLab blog, “Slow Death of a Brutalist Vistion.”  

Originally known as the “Waterfront Shoreline Houses” and completed in 1974, the project was among many architecturally ambitious, and often controversial, projects across the state commissioned by the New York State Urban Development Corporation under the leadership of Ed Logue. Rudolph’s design for the site was innovative, featuring almost garden apartment-like semi-detached buildings sited in broad S-curves on a generous site, differentiating it from the high rise towers so commonly associated with low income housing plans of the time. Details such as projecting and recessed balconies, long, low shed roofs, and hammered ribbed concrete exteriors give the complex Rudolph authenticity. The original plan for the site included mixed market-rate and affordable housing, a school, a community center, and public space, but only the affordable housing and school were ever realized, compromising the project from the start. Read our 2014 account here

Top photo: Demo begun on the Shoreline Apartments, photo by David Torke, FixBuffalo. Middle photo: early architectural plans and models for the Shoreline Apartments from the 1970 MOMA exhibit Work in Progress. Photo by Kelvin Dickerson. Bottom photo by Barbara Campagna.