SkyParkWay

skyparkway_future

Buffalo’s Skyway was built in 1954 to connect downtown Buffalo with Lake Erie’s shore beyond the Buffalo River. It was built over the river with a height of 33.5 meters, allowing big ships to go under it. In the past few years, however, there has been a progressively increased social and political pressure arguing for its demolition. The reasons most commonly argued for this proposition are the Skyway’s high maintenance costs, its dangerousness during winter, its sheer “ugliness,” and its urban location within Buffalo, disconnecting its downtown from its waterfront.

“From just about every angle—economic development, public safety, cost considerations and urban aesthetics—it makes sense to look for alternatives to the ugly dinosaur that mars our waterfront.” Editorial of The Buffalo News, November 15, 2002.

“Not only is it apparent to Buffalonians that we need to explore alternatives to the Skyway, but nationally recognized waterfront development experts agree as well. Former Milwaukee Mayor John Norquist, who is credited with the revitalization of his City’s waterfront, was in Buffalo recently giving an address to a group of concerned citizens at the Nichols School. A participant asked him, if he were charged with improving Buffalo, what is the first thing he would do. He stated, without hesitation, that his first priority would be replacing the Skyway. A similar move in Milwaukee helped spark a new era of waterfront development there.” Letter from Brian Higgins, Member of Congress, to Thomas J. Madison, Jr., Acting Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation.

Despite all these arguments, the Skyway provides one of the most intense spatial experiences that the city can offer. At very few places within Buffalo can one experience and enjoy such a vast and peaceful view, producing a much needed calm feeling.

I would argue that transforming this existing infrastructure and making the city become a unique place is a better strategy than demolishing the city’s potentials. For this reason, Buffalo’s Skyway should not be demolished. This project proposes to reprogram it by converting it into a new type of aerial public park: the SkyParkWay, a blank space available for moon gazing, spooning, playing, relaxing, etc. The SkyParkWay would connect downtown Buffalo with lake Erie through an intense pedestrian experience by reformulating Buffalo’s historical Olmsted-designed parkways.

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Project Data

SkyParkWay
Design Speculation
Skyway, Buffalo, USA
July 2006

Design Team: Sergio Lopez-Pineiro

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