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Uninspiring Urban Design: New Seneca Casino in Downtown ...

Uninspiring Urban Design: New Seneca Casino in Downtown Buffalo, New York

Urban design is the bridge between urban planning and architecture design. It connects the feelings inspired by the architecture of a building and how the building interacts with the fabric of the neighborhood, and that neighborhood’s future development. A rendering for the new Seneca Casino in downtown Buffalo, New York, shown left, is an example

Urban design is the bridge between urban planning and architecture design. It connects the feelings inspired by the architecture of a building and how the building interacts with the fabric of the neighborhood, and that neighborhood’s future development. A rendering for the new Seneca Casino in downtown Buffalo, New York, shown left, is an example of typical suburban sprawl and contemporary box-store  design, whereby the building is surrounded by a sea of parking. This project is going to be among the first of many developments in a poor, minority neighborhood, that is dominated by vacant lots, surface parking, and a crumbling infrastructure.  Instead of creating a comprehensive plan which is typical of urban settings, this project turned its back to the surrounding neighborhood. It offers no incentives for future projects to be designed for an attractive, walkable streetscape, that would interact with this project.

Effective urban design of this project would have allowed for the site of the building to be adaptable to changes that future develop brings.  Furthermore, the parking garage on the south side of the site, shown below, creates a barrier and does not encourage sustainable lifestyle practices such as walking by neighborhood residences to the south.  All parking garages should have some type of storefronts on the bottom level of the parking garage facing the street to accompany and encourage designs and visual stimulation on streetscapes.  Through urban design, this project could have been a catalyst for development that would have created an integrated urban neighborhood, reflective of the history, and character of the cobblestone district; but it has failed. There is nothing to praise about this design, as it relates to the urban fabric of the neighborhood, and no urban projects should ever follow this model.

Imagine if future development, on the empty lots and surface parking lots around this site, were to follow the same pattern. Would this neighborhood loose its urban essence and become another extension of suburbia?


Credits: Images and data linked to sources.
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Ryan Kucinski is a Master’s of Urban Planning student at the University of Southern California concentrating in Urban Design and Historic Preservation of the built environment. Originally from Buffalo, New York, he graduated, in 2011, top of his ...

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