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The region’s architectural treasures once again impress national audience

Without a doubt, the collective attitude Buffalonians have about their city has been improving of late as they point like proud parents to the development at the waterfront, downtown Medical Campus and beyond.

But it also shows in discussions of our historic buildings, many designed by America’s great architects. The recently concluded 66th annual conference of the Society of Architectural Historians allowed the area to once again show its wares on a national stage.

The 620 architecture experts who traveled to Buffalo from across the United States and 26 other countries set attendance records for the four-day event. While the weather probably didn’t endear Western New York to the visitors, the out-of-towners seemed impressed by the architectural treasures on display.

“I’ve never had so many of our members come up to me and say, this is a wonderful conference and Buffalo’s a wonderful city,” Pauline Saliga, the society’s executive director, said Sunday.

Similar goodwill was generated a year and a half ago when Buffalo hosted the conference of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. And the same should be expected next year when the city hosts the Congress for the New Urbanism annual conference.

Even if residents tend to breeze past the region’s iconic structures without a second thought, they should appreciate the reactions of these outsiders, architectural historians at the top of their field.

Paul Goldberger, a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and former longtime critic at the New Yorker, talked about the treasures that are here and the renewed interest in their revitalization. He said, “There were things that I thought 10 years ago were impossible that are beginning to happen.”

On this latest visit, Goldberger has witnessed neighborhood revival, great progress in the revitalization of the Richardson Olmsted Complex and so much more.

He also discussed the recent re-creation of parts of the Darwin Martin House Complex and its brilliant visitors pavilion designed by Toshiko Mori.

While he normally opposes such posthumous endeavors, he told a News reporter that the work gives the Darwin Martin House “a whole kind of depth and resonance that goes beyond what most restorations have …”

He spoke enthusiastically about Buffalo’s trifecta: buildings by American masters H.H. Richardson, Louis Sullivan and Frank Lloyd Wright. It is a message that deserves to spread. And with 620 newly minted architectural ambassadors, word should get out quickly.