There were few buildings designed in the humanist modern tradition in Buffalo. The YWCA at 190 Franklin Street is one of them, and a good one (another is the J.N. Adam store, right). It was designed in 1951 by Duane Lyman, possibly Buffalo’s most accomplished architect of the mid-20th century. The sale raises concerns because four nearby buildings sold in recent times were demolished for parking, including the early 20th century building immediately north of the Y, which last housed the New York State Department of Labor.
Further, the building is in that parlous point of its history when it no longer seems up-to-date to the general public and is not yet appreciated as aesthetically valuable. Part of this has to do with breakdown of aesthetic coherence through gradual unsympathetic change. Here, the interior furnishings have become a mishmash and the sweeping window bands on the exterior have been modified with colored reflective glass and exterior air conditioners. A similar process is going on in the Central Library, where that building’s best feature, its furnishings, are being jettisoned in favor of a Barnes & Noble motif, complete with Corian® countertops.
A sympathetic Y-buyer would play up the 50’s associations with properly scaled and styled furniture, walls, and floors. It could be cool.