One of Buffalo’s most iconic buildings and a National Historic Landmark, the 140-year-old Richardson Olmsted Complex, is being renewed after years of neglect. Designed by one of America's premier architects, Henry Hobson Richardson, in concert with the famed landscape team of Frederic Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux, the building was completed in the late 1800s as the Buffalo State Asylum for the Insane.
It incorporated a system of enlightened treatment for people with mental illness developed by Dr. Thomas Story Kirkbride, in part by providing pleasing surroundings. Over the years, as mental health treatment changed and resources were diverted, the buildings and grounds began a slow deterioration. In 2006, the Richardson Center Corporation was formed with a mandate to save the buildings and bring the Complex back to life through a State appropriation for this architectural treasure.
Today, the Richardson Olmsted Complex is being transformed into a cultural amenity for the city, beginning with Hotel Henry Urban Resort and Conference Center and the Buffalo Architecture Center in the iconic Towers Building and two flanking buildings (about one third of the Complex). The remaining buildings have been stabilized pending future opportunities.
A Historic Structures Report and Cultural Landscape Report serve as guides for the rehabilitation. At every stage of planning, the Richardson Center Corporation has used an active public process, which has helped to inform the Master Plan and all phases of redevelopment for the Complex.