Photo by Dylan Buyskes / Onion Studio

The Richardson Olmsted Campus

Buffalo, NY

Market: Mixed-Use




2020 Design Award Honor, AIA New York
2019 Engineering Excellence Bronze Award, American Council of Engineering Companies of Massachusetts
2018 Richard H. Driehaus Foundation National Preservation Award, National Trust for Historic Preservation
2017 Preservation Award for Neighborhood Conservation, Preservation Buffalo Niagara
The Richardson Olmsted Campus

Photo by Dylan Buyskes / Onion Studio

The Richardson Olmsted Campus
The Richardson Olmsted Campus

Designed by H.H. Richardson and Frederick Law Olmsted in the 1870s, the 203-acre Richardson Olmsted Campus began as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane. The 38-building site is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and was designated as a National Historic Landmark in 1986. SGH helped prepare a historic structures report (HSR) and subsequently designed structural and building enclosure repairs for the adaptive reuse of three buildings into a high-end boutique hotel.

Scope | Solutions

Working with Goody Clancy, SGH helped develop an HSR for the Richardson Center Corporation. We assessed the condition of the administration building, the remaining patient wards, and several support buildings, all of which were unoccupied for decades. SGH observed severe deterioration of the wood floor framing and exterior walls, identified portions of the abandoned structures at risk of failing, and worked with local structural engineers to design shoring.

Richardson Center Corporation raised funds to adapt a portion of the site and SGH served as the building enclosure consultant and structural engineer for the rehabilitation of three buildings. Highlights of our work include the following:

  • Assessed the structures’ and building enclosures’ condition

  • Examined the wood framing to identify species and strength

  • Analyzed existing floor framing and established capacities for each room to help the architect coordinate programming, while minimizing strengthening

  • Helped the architect evaluate proposed modifications to limit the code-required upgrades and avoid a seismic retrofit

  • Designed two steel trusses embedded within an existing wall to create new openings in masonry bearing walls below the ballroom

  • Designed new framing and structural modifications for interior alterations and a new entry vestibule addition

  • Provided recommendations for the enclosure systems, including repairing exterior stone on mass masonry walls, replacing slate shingle roofing and windows, and repairing copper roofing

  • Collaborated with the project team to address unforeseen field conditions

Project Contact(s)