Buffalo bee dwelling wins international architecture award

Elevator B, designed and built by master's students in UB's School of Architecture and Planning, is located in Silo City in Buffalo. Photo credit: Hive City Design Team

Release Date: March 21, 2013 This content is archived.

“This is an inspiring achievement for our school and a clear reflection of the talent and passion our students bring to their work. ”
Robert G. Shibley
Dean of the UB School of Architecture and Planning
Honeybee hive inside a wooden box.

The honeycomb inside Elevator B, following 5 months of growth. Photo credit: Hive City Design Team


BUFFALO, N.Y. — Elevator B, a honeycomb-themed tower housing bees on Buffalo’s waterfront, has won a highly-regarded international architecture award.

The dwelling, designed by University at Buffalo architecture students, was announced on March 19 as the Jury Award winner in the Student Design/Build Project category of the Architizer A+ Awards. The project was selected from a pool of competitors worldwide, beating finalists from locales including South Africa, the Philippines and more.

“This is an inspiring achievement for our school and a clear reflection of the talent and passion our students bring to their work,” said UB School of Architecture and Planning Dean Robert G. Shibley. “Elevator B also demonstrates how our use of Buffalo as a design laboratory generates globally relevant design research and built works.”

This year’s Architizer A+ contest drew thousands of entries from over 100 countries in several types of architecture, from residential to cultural to landscape.

The team that dreamed up and built Elevator B included five master’s students in UB’s School of Architecture and Planning: Courtney Creenan, Kyle Mastalinski, Daniel Nead, Scott Selin and Lisa Stern. All have now graduated.

The partners erected Elevator B in 2012 in Silo City, a waterfront site where a cluster of grain elevators sits.

The project was the winning design in a student competition organized by the UB School of Architecture and Planning’s Ecological Practices Research Group and sponsored by Rigidized Metals Corporation with the goal of relocating a colony of bees from their home in a vacant building set to undergo renovation.

The tower, 22 feet tall, comprises hexagonal steel panels that resemble the patterns in a natural honeycomb. Within this tower, the bees live inside a hexagonal “bee cab,” a wooden elevator that keeps them protected from the elements. Beekeepers can lower the cab to gain access to the colony, and visitors can observe the animals up close through the cab’s laminated glass bottom.

Elevator B was one of five finalists for the Architizer A+ jury prize in the Student Design/Build Project category, which was decided by judges drawn from a pool of luminaries that included renowned architects, architecture critics from media outlets like the New York Times, and the curators and founders of institutions like the Museum of Modern Art and Architecture for Humanity. The project was also a finalist for an Architizer A+ Popular Choice award, which is decided by the public.

Another Buffalo building, Kaleida Health and UB’s Gates Vascular Institute and Clinical and Translational Research Center, was a finalist in another category of the Architizer awards competition.

Architizer A+ award winners in all categories are invited to attend an awards gala in May.

“We are so thrilled by the news,” said UB Assistant Professor of Architecture Joyce Hwang, who served as a project advisor to the student design team, along with UB architecture faculty members Christopher Romano and Martha Bohm.

“It is an immense honor for the Hive City Team to win this international competition, not only due to the high level of distinction of the jury, but also due to the quality of the finalist projects that were our team’s competitors,” Hwang said. “We are very excited that the UB team has won first place in the only category for students. It will be an amazing experience for our alumni to be celebrated alongside many well-recognized professional architects and designers.”

More information on Elevator B.

The project has been recognized internationally as well as locally, winning the Buffalo Architecture Foundation’s Pro Bono Publico Award.

Media Contact Information

Charlotte Hsu is a former staff writer in University Communications. To contact UB's media relations staff, email ub-news@buffalo.edu or visit our list of current university media contacts.