Imagine the joy and huzzahs that would accompany this splashed headline:
Company builds $86 million waterfront HQ, moves downtown with 1,300 jobs
Is there a person in Western New York who hasn't wished for such a near miracle for 25 years? Is there anything but potential good news in this event?
Wait, this is Buffalo, we'll find anything wrong. Thus it emerges that BlueCross BlueShield of Western New York, which decided to do everything asked of a stellar corporate citizen, finds itself defending itself against critics of the building's design. (At least the Preservation Board approved).
Will it rank with the works of the architecture immortals of a century ago? Does the lake-view building behind the required stone facade make us swoon with Pritzker Architecture Prize potential? No to both. But architects criticizing other architects' work is what they do, how they're trained via juried appraisals. Read how his neo-classical peers sniffed at Louis H. Sullivan's work, like the now-beloved Guaranty Building.
But all this comes in the context of a city so often lacking in corporate good sense that its leading utility moved from downtown to Amherst; its regional economic development agency thinks nursing homes and doctor's offices deserve development tax breaks; and its retail core resides in Cheektowaga.
Know this: If a company from California announced it planned to move 1,300 employees to a newly built $86.3 million waterfront corporate headquarters after remediating an environmentally iffy brownfield, Buffalonians would rightfully throw rose petals in the path of the arriving CEO.
So a little perspective here, please. Mixing an 1848 facade with a 2007 building would challenge the masters. But there's plenty to legitimately criticize around here. This decision answers prayers. We need about 10 more just like it.