We recently earned third place in the Community Choice category of the Western New York Land Conservancy’s Reimagining the DL&W Corridor – International Design Ideas Competition. This effort was a partnership between our Buffalo and New York City offices. The competition asked firms to help conceive how an abandoned stretch of the Delaware, Lackawanna and Western (DL&W) railway that runs from Buffalo’s Canalside to its Solar City plant could be revived. The area will eventually be transformed into an elevated park not too dissimilar from the High Line in New York City.

We were thrilled to unleash our creative energy through this design competition and are proud of our proposal and the recognition it received. Local Buffalo media and Architect’s Newspaper published the results of the DL&W Corridor competition, which ultimately will pull composite ideas from the submissions received to inform an RFP that will be released later this summer.

Explore our submitted concept proposal’s narrative and boards here:

The DL&W rail line – or “Del,” as locals know it – presents a groundbreaking opportunity for the City of Buffalo in its ongoing redevelopment. Our perspective on this design reflects the land’s historical industrial past, honors Frederick Law Olmsted’s vision of interconnected public green spaces throughout the city, responds to the rail line’s years of dormancy, and is created in the vision of an active, equitable and sustainable future.

We envision our design to support the full potential of what this park could become. The new elevated park and its structures represent an organic growth of the living land’s dynamic forms – its soil and roots, its stories and outcomes. It is designed to curate a flexible experience for residents and visitors that’s accessible to everyone in all four seasons. A new kind of park for a new kind of Buffalo.

We envision the park as a continuously connected elevated corridor that passes over the mounds and two mound-less parcels in the Old First Ward. The bones of this new green corridor mirror the original rail line, and accommodate two parallel pathways: one for bikes, cross-country skis and snowshoes, and one for pedestrians. These twin paths take the best advantage of each parcel’s local context, size and geometry.

The park offers a holistic experience, end to end. That said, it’s intended to be implemented – and fundraised for – over time. A flexible kit of parks can be informed and adjusted by community input at every stage. Activity spaces, park pavilions and supporting infrastructure can all be added in phases. Eventually, a menu of diverse activities and experiences will spread along the 11 parcels linked together by a consistent design language. Here, visitors will experience a range of analog experiences that encourage physical activity, enable community connection, and allow for personal growth.

The community planning process is as central to the success of this design as the physical planning process. This phased approach will allow community input at every stage, integrating neighbors and visitors with the landscape – and propelling the community toward greater culture and societal prosperity.

As I indicated, this design response was a combined effort between our Buffalo and New York City offices. The team consisted of Nhan Bui, Mark Nowaczyk, Ryan Koella, Luke Johnson, John Reed and Michael Tunkey, with support from Nicole Sowinsky and Ben Siegel. The team project partner Supermass Studio includes Taewooke Cha, RLA, ASLA, LEED AP, Sean ENO and Luyao Kong.

Learn more about our Buffalo Practice >