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Interior design major Sherry Brinser-Days project illustrates her concept for the terminals restoration.
Celebrate it! That's the message interior design students gave to the Central Terminal Restoration Corporation (CTRC) on November 20 in a well-attended presentation in Rockwell Hall. At issue was the design and use of interior space at the Buffalo Central Terminal, the once-bustling railroad station towering over Buffalo's East Side.
Rebecca Geraghty, lecturer in the interior design program, heard a radio show discussing possible reuses for the building. "I thought it might be a good design opportunity for our students," said Geraghty, "as well as an opportunity to engage them in service learning." She contacted the program host to find out more about the terminal's current owners.
Art Deco Design, History
Russell E. Pawlak is president of the CTRC, the not-for-profit group that bought the terminal to preserve and restore it. He welcomed Geraghty's interest in the structure and gave a slide presentation to her interior design Professional Practices class in late August. The students then toured the terminal and completed the field documentation phase required for major design projects. Terry Postero, associate professor of design, taught the Materials and Specifications class to the same group of students, further contributing to the community-classroom effort.
Focusing on a designated area, student teams worked separately and then together to develop a mixed-use design as the basis for a "best-use" master plan. The plan has an Art Deco theme, in keeping with the architectural style of the building. Art Deco is a catchphrase referring to the common characteristics of design typical of the early-twentieth-century period between the two world wars. Art Deco's connection with the 1920s and 1930s provided the students with historically rooted ideas as well as with a design motif.
One of the facilities they suggested was a destination nightclub celebrating the speakeasy/flapper culture of the 1920s. Other facilities included a restaurant, a gallery,
and a theater suitable for movies, concerts, and plays. These facilities would all fit because the terminal's interior space is massive; the concourse alone takes up nearly 15,000 square feet. Students suggested that one option to encourage visitors would be to bring them into the terminal on private excursion trains using the existing tracks.
Ideas Generate Excitement, Funding
"The audience was very interested in the students' ideas," said Geraghty. "The students fielded a lot of detailed questions."
Pawlak has asked Geraghty for the posterboards showing the students' concepts so that visitors to the terminal can see them when tours resume in the spring. The posterboards illustrate details suggested by the students, ranging from floor material to fountains to drawings demonstrating how Art Deco design characteristics can be incorporated in future projects.
"We hope that, by displaying the students' ideas, we'll generate some additional funding for the next phase," said Pawlak. He and the other CTRC board members were especially excited about the new, innovative materials the students recommended. "They did a fantastic job," he said, "of using contemporary materials and sensitive design concepts to enhance the existing structure."