BUFFALO, N.Y. -- A massive and thriving colony of bees living in
an abandoned industrial site in Buffalo has been moved into a brand
new home, designed for them by architecture graduate students in
the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning.
"Elevator B," as it is called, is a 22 -foot-tall, free-standing
steel, glass and cypress tower that was raised last week in "Silo
City," an area along the Buffalo River where several massive
abandoned grain elevators are located.
Video of the students' at work on the project is available here:
The bee colony was living in the walls of a long unused
outbuilding destined for rehabilitation. The bees were moved into
Elevator B on June 10 and the honey from the existing hive was
pressed and distributed among the designers and builders.
The new habitat's exterior hexagonal shapes are inspired by
natural honeycomb, and its tubular design echoes the shape of the
grain elevator silos that surround it. Elevator B is sited in a
field adjacent to the historic "Marine A" grain elevator, built in
1925, which rises 196 feet from the shore of the Buffalo River.
The design and its function are described in detail with
diagrams and drawings available here at http://hivecity.wordpress.com/design/phase-2-schematic-design.
Inside the tower is an innovative "bee cab" or bee elevator
constructed of cypress and glass, which will actually house the
colony and provide it with protection and warmth.
The bee cab typically will be in a raised position to allow
visitors to step into the tower, look up and watch the colony
through a glass window. The bees will enter the cab through holes
near its top, about 10 feet above the ground in its raised
position. The cab can be lowered to the ground to permit the
beekeeper to attend to the health and safety of the bees.
Elevator B is a winning design in a student competition
organized by the UB School's Ecological Practices Research Group.
It involved four teams of young architects.
The competition, sponsored by Rigidized Metals Corporation of
Buffalo, which owns the Silo City site, required teams of graduate
and undergraduate architecture students to design habitats in which
the entire "living body" of the colony -- thousands of bees and a
huge honeycomb -- could live long and prosper.
The winning team is made up of five graduate architecture
students in the UB school who say their intention was not only to
design a structure to house the bees, but to offer a way to educate
the public about bee work and its contribution to our ecological
Bees, of course, are under enormous environmental and physical
stress, and are perhaps less well understood than they should be,
although in his day, St. John Chrysostom wrote that the bee "is
more honored than other animals, not because she labors, but
because she labors for others."
The members of the winning team are Courtney Creenan, who
graduated from UB in May with master's degrees in architecture
(M.Arch) and urban planning (MUP); Scott Selin and Lisa Stern, each
of whom graduated with an M.Arch in May, and Kyle Mastalinski and
Daniel Nead, who will receive combined M.Arch and MUP degrees in
The participating teams were directed by Christopher Romano, UB
clinical assistant professor of architecture, and Martha Bohm and
Joyce Hwang, both assistant professors of architecture. In 2010,
Hwang famously designed and built an innovative structure to house
bats and raise awareness of their enormous value to the ecosystem
and of a fungal disease, white-nose syndrome, which so far has
killed nationwide more than 1 million bats.
The contest was sponsored by Rigidized Metals Corporation, a
Buffalo metal fabrication company, its CEO Rick Smith and his
colleague, Jeff Ede. The company has assisted the UB School of
Architecture and Planning on a number of design projects and has
made the buildings and grounds of Silo City available to the school
for several design experiments, student studio presentations,
project construction and special events.