'Spirit of Community' now graces Richardson entrance

Jan 6, 2018

The H.H. Richardson building at the Buffalo Psychiatric Center sat derelict for years until preservationists saved the Elmwood Avenue landmark and started turning around the vast structure. The latest addition is a giant new sculpture outside the entrance of what is now a hotel and soon-to-be architecture center.

Artist Daniel Shafer is a Buffalo native.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

The giant series of rings from local artist Daniel Shafer is entitled "Spirit of Community" and was funded by the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation. Its metal stands out against the old stone of the landmark and against the new glass entrance to what is now Hotel Henry.

Shafer, who spent 21 years studying and working overseas before returning to his native Buffalo, says planning was essential to the project.

"There are a lot of considerations," he says. "It has to match, Number One, the site. I'm very happy that this was designed, site specific-wise, for this installation. You also have to match the budget. That's a constraint."

Before the foundation gave the go-ahead for the latest addition to its "Spirit of Buffalo" art series, Shafer had to build a small-scale model to show what it would look like.

"The maquette, the model was done by feel," says the Hutchinson Central Technical High School and University at Buffalo engineering graduate. "It was an 11-inch model. We scaled it up, using a computer, so a computer helps."

"Spirit of Community" is the latest piece of artwork in a series called "Spirit of Buffalo," funded by the Buffalo Renaissance Foundation.
Credit Mike Desmond / WBFO News

He says the piece is so big, its winter installation included holes drilled several feet down into an underground steam tunnel and those holes were used to bolt the structure into its traffic circle.

"I think construction workers are some of the greatest people, down to earth and you can talk to them," Shafer says. "They have a great sense of humor and they helped build this. It would not be possible without them."

That is outside.

Inside, the final stages of preparation for the Lipsey Buffalo Architecture Center are underway. Interim Executive Director Molly Quackenbush says it will be a great cultural addition.

"Show you and tell you about what this new cultural center is going to be for Buffalo, for our region and as another part of making Buffalo a great cultural tourism destination," says Quackenbush.