BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo architecture faculty
member Joyce Hwang will spend five weeks this spring at the
nation's oldest artists' colony, where she will conclude a
semester-long sabbatical devoted to a project she hopes to build in
Buffalo: Pest Wall.
Hwang's residency at the MacDowell Colony in Peterborough, N.H.
, will begin April 7 and end May 12. The colony, founded in 1907,
nurtures the arts by giving architects, composers, filmmakers,
writers and artists of all kinds an inspiring environment in which
they can focus, free from distractions, on their work.
Hwang, who is taking the semester off from teaching, plans to
use her time at MacDowell to complete the design of Pest Wall, an
outdoor wall that houses bats and other "pests."
She is assembling a team of students to work on the project,
which she hopes to construct in Buffalo this summer.
Pest Wall will be the second prototype in a series of structures
that draws attention to the importance of creatures such as insects
and bats by creating a place for them in the built environment.
Hwang's first pest architecture project, Bat Tower, was a twisted,
12-foot-tall bat house that she and students erected beside a pond
at Griffis Sculpture Park this summer.
"The types of animals that people think of as being pests
actually can be beneficial to have in an urban setting," said
Hwang, an assistant professor. "Bats, for example, eat mosquitoes.
Often times, if the animals are not well understood, there's a fear
of the unknown. And that's unfortunate, because a lot of animals
are critical to the ecosystem."
Hwang's work on pest architecture has gained the attention of
her peers in the U.S. and abroad. She delivered a talk on the
subject in 2009 at "Animals and Animality Across the Humanities and
Social Sciences," a conference at Queen's University in Ontario.
Bat Tower has been featured in a range of publications online and
in print, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, Good and
Bat Tower comprises five triangular segments stacked on top of
one another, each with walls of finished plywood panels arranged in
a ribbed, accordion-like pattern.
Some of Hwang's initial concepts for Pest Wall share a similar
quality, with pieces of carved plywood—some shaped like
lightning bolts—cascading down the sides of buildings in
tightly spaced layers.
Other preliminary renderings show a nest of plywood
frames—all rectangular, but of different sizes—pressed
together to form an accordion-esque wall.
The goal is to create openings that are comfortable for bats and
maybe squirrels, but too small for larger, urban predators like
Ideally, Hwang said, Pest Wall would be attached to an existing
structure. While bats and other denizens would not be able to gain
access to the interior of the chosen building, she has played with
the idea of installing thermal cameras that would enable human
residents to "see" their new, outdoor neighbors.
Hwang plans to finalize her drawings by May and begin
construction soon after.
Once Pest Wall is complete, she'll start thinking more about her
next pest architecture project: "Pest Pavilion," a freestanding,
urban structure whose roof and walls would make a good home for
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive
public university, a flagship institution in the State University
of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus.
UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests
through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional
degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a
member of the Association of American Universities.