The 1950 demolition of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Larkin Administration Building for a parking lot is widely considered one of the great architectural tragedies of the 20th century.
On Wednesday, across the street, a work crew was seen removing a section of the historic powerhouse’s brick wall, raising fears among preservationists that another demolition could be under way. Some bricks have been removed.
In response, the Buffalo Preservation Board – which hadn’t been notified, as required, that the building could be targeted for the wrecking ball – is expected today to vote for a public hearing.
In addition, a nomination form to give local landmark status to all of the Larkin Co. buildings, including the powerhouse, as part of the Larkin Historic District will be introduced by Tim Tielman, the executive director of the Campaign for Greater Buffalo History, Architecture & Culture, who is also a member of the city preservation board.
The powerhouse is across Seneca and Larkin streets from the colossal Larkin Center of Commerce, which is partly owned by Peter Krog of Krog Corp.
“It is unfortunate and outrageous that a building owner seeking to exploit the historic cachet of the Larkin Co. would destroy part of the nation’s legacy for a parking lot,” Tielman said, believing that to be the owners’ intention.
“A Larkin Historic District would give long overdue, formal recognition and protection to one of America’s most important industrial complexes. It would also offer the maximum protection for the endangered powerhouse,” Tielman added.
The Larkin District, dubbed “Larkinville,” has been considered in recent years to be one of the city’s great success stories. More than 1.5 million square feet of historic buildings have been preserved and rehabilitated.
There also have been improvements to the streetscape and addition of green space.
A number of buildings on or near Seneca Street also have recently been sold for housing and office development, capitalizing on the Larkin District’s success.
On the wall of the powerhouse building is large ad featuring a drawing of a rehabilitated structure dubbed Larkin Lofts with one- and two-bedroom apartments with Krog Corp. as the developer.