Preservation Award Winner: Roycroft Campus Master Plan & Roycroft Powerhouse

SOURCE: Buffalo Rising
DATE: May 8, 2012
See the original article at Buffalo Rising

Preservation Award Winner: Roycroft Campus Master Plan & Roycroft Powerhouse

Preservation Buffalo Niagara is recognizing outstanding preservation projects and those contributing to preservation efforts at its annual awards ceremony May 30, 11:30 AM in the Statler’s Golden Ballroom. Award categories were established to acknowledge distinguished contributions to our community through preservation activity. Recipients will be recognized in several areas including: preservation craft; rehabilitation/adaptive use; stewardship; neighborhood conservation; planning/reconstruction; and preservation journalism. Buffalo Rising will profile this year’s winners leading up to the May event.

The Roycroft Campus Master Plan & Roycroft Powerhouse in East Aurora is being recognized in the ‘Preservation Planning/Reconstruction’ category.

Roycroft Powerhouse Project Description

The Roycroft Powerhouse is the first major restoration project completed on the Roycroft Campus since the Roycroft Inn reopened in 1995. It is the first of several restoration projects outlined in the Roycroft Campus Corporation’s (RCC) Master Plan. The RCC’s goal is to ultimately acquire and restore all of the Roycroft Campus’ National Historic Landmark buildings. The Powerhouse was built in 1910 to house equipment that generated electricity and heat for the entire Roycroft business operation.

The original Powerhouse building was destroyed by fire in 1997. It had been altered many times since the Roycroft went out of business in 1938. The RCC acquired the Powerhouse property in 2005 and immediately commenced the planning and fundraising process to rebuild it. Construction began in 2009 and reached substantial completion in January. Flynn Battaglia was project architect.

After a complete analysis and conducting a historic structures report, it was determined that the ruins of the fire could not be restored. The RCC decided to pursue a historic reconstruction of the original architecture of the exterior, designing it around the few fragments that survived. The architecture and industrial use of the interior would be interpreted through its design, while creating welcoming spaces that satisfy RCC’s need for additional programming space.

The NYS Historic Preservation Office and the East Aurora Historic Commission were consulted and engaged throughout the entire design and approval process. The exterior is faithful to the original, while providing the visitor clues that it is clearly a modern building. One major clue is the chimney design. The lower portion of the chimney is built using brick salvaged from the original. The upper two thirds is faced with a contemporary terra-cotta rain-shield material manufactured by Boston Valley Terra Cotta. This material gives a similar color and texture to brick while clearly identifying the Powerhouse as a contemporary structure.

This building is an interesting and important example of how historic preservation can be interpreted. It combines preservation, restoration and reconstruction on an internationally significant National Historic Landmark. After the fire there was no hope of restoration. Since coal fired heat and electricity is no longer relevant it was not viable to rebuild the original purpose of the building. Yet one of the major contributing structures to the Roycroft Campus was missing and more programming space was needed. The solution that was created is a hybrid of historic restoration and contemporary design. It is a modern functional facility that incorporates several original artifacts and visual design elements that interpret its history through its architecture.

Like the original Roycrofters the utilized the best local craftsmanship available for the construction of the Powerhouse. J. A. Gulick Window Company made all of the doors and windows recreating their original design. Boston Valley Terra-Cotta manufactured the terra-cotta roof tiles in molds created from the originals. The rusticated concrete blocks were cast from originals salvaged from the ruins by a local concrete fabricator. All of the contractors on the project were local and several of them are based in East Aurora.

Roycroft Campus Master Plan

At the time of the Roycroft Movement the Campus encompassed six major and eight minor buildings across six acres of contiguous property in the Village of East Aurora, NY. Although or the most part the buildings remain, their ownership is varied, fragmenting the original campus into a series of loosely connected holdings with overlapping functions, easements and relationships.

Flynn Battaglia Architects was challenged with three distinct projects: Master Plan, recreation of the Power House and the Museum Copper Shop restoration. Flynn Battaglia has been working with a project team that includes landscape architecture firm DWG Planning & Design, program planner Fisher Group, The Archaeological Survey Department of Anthropology at SUNY Buffalo, Engineer Clark Patterson Lee, the Roycroft Board of Trustees, the Village of East Aurora and others to create and implement the phased restoration of the Roycroft Campus.

Goals/Challenges: Re-coordinate the original Campus. Reassert the interrelationships of the buildings, their grounds and their infrastructure on the basis of the historical precedent.

Solutions: Identify critical structure and maintenance issues. Create guidelines and timetables for restoration and possible adaptive reuse. Maximize opportunities for honoring and strengthening the Roycroft movement. Define opportunities for greater space efficiencies.

The current phase of the plan will see the RCC purchase the chapel and the print shop buildings for reincorporation into the campus. Acquiring the buildings for public use would fulfill the RCC’s effort to include at least five of the six major buildings on the campus. This phase also includes the full restoration of the Copper Shop now underway.

By Phase III (2016-2021), it is expected that nearly all of the remaining buildings of the campus will be owned by the RCC. At this point the campus will be able to fully support its mission and heighten the Arts and Crafts Movement experience for visitors.

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