h. richardson

H. H. Richardson Complex

H.H. Richardson Complex is a recently-coined name for the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, a large Medina red sandstone and brick hospital that stands on the grounds of the present day Buffalo Psychiatric Center in Buffalo, New York. The official name for the complex (at least technically so) remains as the Buffalo Psychiatric Center (originally Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane, and, later, known as Buffalo State Hospital).

The hospital buildings were designed in 1870 in the Kirkbride Plan by architect Henry Hobson Richardson with grounds by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted. The main set of buildings consist of a central administrative block and five pavilions progressively set back on each side, for eleven buildings total, all connected by short curved two-story corridors. Patients were segregated by sex, males on the east side, females on the west. It housed mental patients for a century and has been vacant since the mid-1970s. The central administration building was used for offices until 1994. In 1973, the Asylum was added to the National Register of Historic Places and in 1986, it was designated a National Historic Landmark. The complex, the largest commission of Richardson's career and the advent of his characteristic Richardsonian Romanesque style, has been the subject of a long-term preservation campaign. Nevertheless, three pavilions on the east side were demolished when the one of the newer, and current, psychiatric facilities on the campus was built. The grounds behind the building have been occupied by Buffalo State College since the 1970s. Meanwhile, the extant buildings have continued to deteriorate, some dangerously so.

A successful lawsuit filed by the Preservation Coalition of Erie County forced the State of New York to commit $100 million to its rehabilitation. As of 2007, aside from the addition of a fence surrounding the perimeter of the complex and the sealing or fencing-in of all ground-level entrances to the complex, little progress towards the goal of reuse had occurred. Local volunteers have kept a spotlighting system working on the central towers for the past few years. At a public meeting in November 27, 2007, the Richardson Center Corporation presented updates on the progress of the project, including a finished Historic Structures Report, which detailed the present structural conditions of the complex. . On March 5, 2008, initial repairs were begun on the most severely damaged buildings, with repairs to the roof and down-spouts occurring that day. . Further repairs - stabilizations for Building 43, roof repairs for Buildings 10 & 45, and stabilization of the corridor linking buildings 39 & 40, which is currently so damaged that one sees straight through the corridor in places - are planned for the following months.

It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.,


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