Michael Tunkey is profiled extensively in a new Q&A piece from Buffalo Rising, a nationally recognized online news site focused on the positive and interesting people and places that make Buffalo unique. Through the interview, Michael shares his thoughts on design, the city’s architecture and civic fabric, and insight into two exciting new projects in Buffalo – a mixed-use development at 201 Ellicott Street and Queenslight, a multi-building project on the former Children’s Hospital campus in Buffalo’s historic Elmwood Village.
The full Q&A article is available online and below are key excerpts.
On the value of design.
Design is shaping our lives through the application of our values. For example, I try to take time on Saturday mornings to sketch at my kitchen table. I designed the house I’m sitting in, I built the table I’m drawing on. While I’m sketching, I prepare tea in a small jade-green tea set from Shandong. These objects – the tea set, the table, the house, the pen and paper – I’ve shaped them and now they shape me. That’s design. You spend most of your life floating in a world shaped by other people’s values. Don’t you think that’s worth caring about?
On whether public or private projects offer the most design freedom.
I think almost every project is a public project. Every project has neighbors, context, history. Buildings are like people, they need to find balance between a private life and a public life. So really your question is more about funding mechanisms. Personally, I like working on projects with high expectations and limited budgets – they push us to be more creative.
On 201 Ellicott and Queenslight and their importance.
(These are) incredibly important projects. Architecture takes a long time. Even the most fortunate architects will only work on a few truly transformative projects. Both of these projects – for different reasons – have the potential to make significant positive change in our city. We have a great client who is driving us to do the right thing. We’ve developed a good dialogue with the community. We are working on two of the most significant sites in arguably the greatest city for architecture in America…So, no pressure.